Why Do WALS Fees Vary Every Year?

Why do WALS Fees vary from year-to-year?

There are various factors that affect the WALS budget. The benefits, products and services that WALS provides are mostly funded by library membership fees, although Winnefox also contributes a significant portion of revenue to the WALS budget.  Expenditures vary based on equipment requirements, new products or services, and whether or not we need to replenish capital reserves. Revenue may also vary depending on how large a share Winnefox contributes.  The total amount required from the member libraries is determined by taking the estimated expenditures and subtracting all other sources of revenue (grants, interest, Winnefox contribution, etc).

The Winnefox contribution always used to be about 10%. During the years around the 2008 recession, Winnefox increased its contribution to about 20%   In recent years, member libraries recommended that we try to return to the 10% mark, so that member libraries are less dependent on State aid for a mission-critical service.  As the Winnefox portion decreases, the amount the libraries need to pay increases. The decreased Winnefox contribution to WALS means that Winnefox will have more revenue in its budget to improve other services--which aren’t covered by WALS fees, such as delivery--to libraries.

WALS fees are based on how much each library uses the services, with the understanding that there is a base amount that all members must meet or exceed in order for WALS to provide even the most basic services.   Because most recurring, required expenses will tend to go up, we have built in a default increase (guided by the national inflation rate) to all the libraries who pay the base amount. That still leaves a sizable amount to divide up among the remaining, larger, libraries.

Each library’s individual WALS fee is calculated by a formula that is based on that library’s circulation, number of items, and number of users.    The formula assigns each library a percentage of the total amount needed.   Because each library is paying a percentage, and because their portion of the costs are relative to other libraries, fees will vary from year-to-year.