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Finances spur cuts at Morris library

Board decides to eliminate assistant director’s position

Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 9:55 a.m. CDT

The Morris Area Public Library is making cuts, including letting go its assistant director, who just started about seven months ago.

The library board held a special meeting Thursday to address its financial problems.

The library’s financial projections are diminishing due to falling equalized assessed values decreasing property tax revenues in the county. Like the area schools’, the library’s budget is suffering.

The library currently has a deficit budget, but has money to work with due to rollover funds, said Kyla Waltermire, library director.

In addition to declining EAV, the library received an unexpected increase in its health insurance costs, as well as other increases.

“It is not one major hit, but the EAV is the primary culprit,” said Waltermire after the meeting.

As of last week, the library’s estimated end-of-year balance for fiscal year 2014 was about $273,000, with the rollover funds from previous years, said Waltermire.

In fiscal year 2015, the projected balance is $292,564, and for fiscal year 2016, $254,562.

“And we still don’t know what the next two years’ taxes are and it could be worse,” she said after the meeting.

The board discussed a few options to raise the ending balance for the 2014 fiscal year and beyond. Waltermire suggested decreasing the amount of time managers and other employees spend behind the front desk so they can concentrate on their other duties and, therefore, reduce their hours.

The library could then hire positions at a lower wage for behind the desk only.

By having the employees concentrating on their department, they could reduce employees in some of those other departments as well.

“I feel this to be the bare minimum we can have to make sure there is adequate desk coverage without completely giving up things like programs,” she said.

Board trustee Sue Williams offered another option — reduction in force, specifically eliminating the position of the assistant director, who makes $35,500 a year.

“Because it’s the newest hire. We only created the position approximately six months ago,” she said. “I’m concerned with morale. The plan you have affects eight people, this affects the last hire.”

“It’s the least painful option we can explore,” Williams continued.

Board Vice President Jeanne Talarico said she would like to see hours cut from the assistants in the youth services department and some from the assistant director, rather than eliminating the assistant director’s position all together.

Board Secretary Jamie Lain said the youth services department is the only department with weekly programs, such as storytime, and the assistant hours are needed. These programs bring children and their parents into the library every week, she said.

The board voted 5 to 2 to let Assistant Director Debbie Griggs go. In addition, the board decided to take Waltermire up on her previous offer to reduce her salary by $5,000 or $6,000.

The are also reducing the raise of one of the technical services employees after discovering he or she was already on the high end of the library’s pay scale.

Trustees Talarico and Richard Wilcock voted against these actions. Wilcock said earlier in the meeting he wanted to see how the library’s revenues and grants came in first.

“I’d really like to thank Debbie for what she’s done for us,” said Wilcock.

Griggs came to the Morris library from the Brookfield Public Library and has more than 12 years experience in library service, according to morrislibrary.com.

Additional cuts the board is moving forward with from Williams’ suggestion include reducing the books budget by $10,000, bringing it down to $51,000, and the database budget by $2,000, to $7,000 from $9,000. The architect and engineering line item has been cut in half, to $2,500, and the board will be reinstating a $1 fee to rent new movie DVDs from the library.

With these changes, plus insurance changes the board approved recently, the ending balance for fiscal year 2014 is now projected at about $328,869.

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