Florida library cuts services, 51 days to balance budget

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    FLORIDA-Florida Public Library trustees have cut the library budget by 6.5 percent by reducing the number of days the library will be open by 51 days, or about once a week, among other measures. The decision comes in the aftermath of the defeat of the proposed library budget on May 17, by a vote of 375-227. At its annual reorganizational meeting earlier this month, the Library Board of Trustees at first considered a revote. Instead, the board "resolved to honor the verdict of local taxpayers and balance the budget by cutting $17,472," according to a press release from the trustees. The $17,472 was the budget's total proposed increase. The revised adopted budget, now reduced by 6.5 percent, includes tax support of $249,605, the same level as the 2004-05 fiscal year. The total revised budget is $322,505. Although a variety of budget lines were reduced, most of the savings will come through reduced hours of operation from 349 to 298 days. The board approved director Madelyn Folino's proposed new schedule of hours reluctantly, but recognized that cuts to materials and personnel were the only areas left to reduce in an already tight budget. Following the conclusion of the summer reading program, the library will close on Saturdays until after Labor Day. Affected days will be Aug. 6, 13, 20, 27 and Sept. 3. The projected hiring of a part-time staff member to work 6.5 hours on Saturdays also was eliminated and the library will get along with two employees that day as it has for the past 15 years. Sunday hours, normally noon to 5 p.m. from September through June, will be abolished; savings will also be realized through holiday closures. In addition to every Sunday, the library will be closed on Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day. The Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving will feature reduced hours of noon to 5 p.m. Other budget reductions included cuts to new library materials (16 percent), children's programs (10 percent), building expenses (10.5 percent), salaries (6.4 percent) and benefits (7.1 percent). Re-elected trustees Shirley Coughlin and Marie Pillmeier also were sworn in for new five-year terms. Pillmeier was elected president with Kathleen Helhoski as vice president and John Sgombick as secretary. Stella Kosior was reappointed to the position of treasurer. "We'll continue to look at all our programs to make sure that we are getting the most for our money," Folino said. "We've always had registration maximums, but now we'll set higher minimum attendance levels, also, and if they are not met, consolidate some sessions or ask participants to pay for materials. "While fund raising by the Friends of the Library can never take the place of taxpayer support, we appreciate every effort our volunteers make to improve library services for the whole community," she added. "This year, we'll need their help more than ever." Call the library at 651-7659 for more information.