Friday, February 4, 2000
FinCom guideline and larger facility could force cut in library hours
"We don't have a cookie jar full of cookies," finance committee chair Tony Allison told the Gleason Library Trustees and Director Ellen Rauch at the January 26 hearing on the library's request for a 58 percent increase to operate the new building next year.
More staff for new building
The larger building will require three people to staff three desks, instead of the two needed to open the current facility. In addition, the library building subcommittee has estimated costs for utilities and maintenance expenses for the new building at about $15,000 higher than provided in the current budget. Finally, the state requires libraries to budget a minimum of 20 percent of total expenses for materials (books, audiovisual, periodicals and other materials). Therefore, for example, if $10,000 is added for a librarian, it means an additional $2,500 must also be added for materials.
The result is that, though the extra funds allocated for the larger building were appreciated, the 7 percent guideline set by the FinCom will force a cut of 22 hours weekly in the hours the library will be open next year. The guideline increase of $16,449 will only support 32 hours of operation weekly, a reduction from the 54 hours allowed by this year's budget. An additional $119,201 (the 58 percent increase) would allow the building to be open a full 64 hours weekly, with the extra funds to meet the state materials requirement.
FinCom shocked and worried
FinCom members were surprised by the size of the increase requested and the cut in services. "Collectively, we need to come up with a budget that maintains" at least the current 54 hours of operation for next year, FinCom member Tom Bilotta advised the library representatives. He suggested that they gradually add to the hours over the next few years.
But "the town will be unhappy with [the new building] closed much of the week," trustee Mary Cheever responded. The library budget is "a very small part of the cost to run the town, especially when compared with the $6+ million cost to operate the school...and the library serves the whole community," trustee Rosalie Johnson added.
However, FinCom members expressed concern about a potential $600-650,000 override (See article on page 1) and Allison told library representatives that they fear such an increase would fail at the election. Bilotta asked the trustees to look for a way to reduce the 20 percent materials requirement by using other funds available to them. Toward the same end, Billotta suggested moving custodial and possibly other building costs to the Town Hall budget, which included these expenses, up to the time the town offices vacated the second floor of the Gleason Building.
Bilotta and other members urged the trustees and director to revise the budget request to increase the hours of operation to the current 54 by using fewer staff at times, and to explore whether fewer hours might result in lower building costs.
What hours would be cut?
In order to meet the finance committee guideline, the primary reduction in Gleason Library hours would be achieved by closing the doors on some weekdays: Tuesday until 5 p.m., Wednesday entirely, and Thursday after 1 p.m. Hours would also be reduced on weekday evenings and Friday and Saturday morning.
The expanded staffing, allowed by the 58 percent budget increase requested by the trustees, could open the library 64 hours weeklyMonday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; this would eliminate dinner-hour closings and the Wednesday morning closing in the existing 54 hours of operation.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito