Baldwin Public Library Budget Proposal Calls for Cuts to Staff, Hours

The library board approved budgets through 2013, the plans of which include cutting four staff members.

will be tightening its belt this year with plans to eliminate four positions and the possibility of shortening its hours as part of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budgets.

The library board met Monday night to pass the proposed budget, which is based on a proposed millage of 1.32 mills — an increase from the 1.1 mills the library operated with during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The proposed millage increase, which must be approved by the City Commission, would mean that Birmingham households would pay $229 a year in taxes in support of the library, up from the current $203. With a 1.32 millage, the library would receive $2.3 million next year, a $388,000 increase from the library’s current budget.

Under the library's current 1.1 millage rate, the depreciation of the city’s property values means that the library would receive only $264,000 more this year — not enough to fund its operating expenses and capital projects, Library Director Doug Koschik said.

The library’s proposed budget calls for three full-time staff positions to be cut in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, as well as one part-time position, reducing expenditures by $184,558.

“This is a hard decision, but I ran the numbers again and again, and the only way we can stay within a reasonable personnel budget is to eliminate three full-time positions,” Koschik said.

The library currently employs 18 full-time and 35 part-time staff members. This is already a reduction from 2008, when the library maintained 26 full-time and 46 part-time staff members.

The library also is considering reducing its hours from 67 to 62 per week to compensate for lost labor, Koschik said, although he noted that the hours could be cut further. He presented several examples to the board and audience, including cutting Sundays during the summer or shortening morning and evening hours one day a week.

Before making such decisions, Koschik said library staff will look at when the library is used most.

“In order to cope with reduced staffing, we are recommending that the hours of service be reduced,” he said. “It pains us to do this, but we are recommending it.”

Koshik also discussed various technological updates in which the library plans to invest during 2011-12, including four self-checkout devices, a material sorting system and more. These purchases will help to reduce labor costs over time, he said.

Of the handful of community members who attended the meeting, three rose to voice their concerns about losing operational hours and staff members. Former Mayor Robert Kelly said the library board should go back to the drawing board and work with a budget that asks for a 1.46 millage so that all hours can remain operable and staff can remain.

“Don’t pass this budget tonight,” said an emotional Kelly. “Please send it back. We can afford it, we’re a class act.”

Birmingham resident Hermann Fleischer agreed, saying he wished more people had come out to voice their concerns.

“It is unfortunate that we don’t have hundreds of residents here today, but I think my property and my property value, as one person, has a right to speak,” Fleischer said.

The budget will be presented at the City Commission’s April 16 meeting.


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