Union agrees to furloughs to keep Clallam library system afloat

PORT ANGELES — The union that represents employees of the North Olympic Library System agreed to take two, one-week furloughs in 2010 to reduce the need for layoffs, director Paula Barnes told the Library Board on Thursday night.

What that would mean is the entire library system would be closed down for two, one-week periods.

The Library Board has not yet voted on the measure and still has the option to balance the budget by reducing staff.

The board is expected to vote on the budget Nov. 19.

Change of hours

Laying off staff would mean a change in library operating hours at all four branch libraries — in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks and Clallam Bay — but specific plans for the options have not been organized.

Although layoffs would still be necessary even with the unpaid furloughs, which are expected to save about $70,000, fewer would be necessary.

One audience member asked at Thursday’s Library Board meeting if the furloughs could be scattered so that the whole system isn’t shut down.

“The problem is that the savings we garner really comes from our ability to shut down completely,” Barnes said.

The budget for the library system in 2009 was $3,082,813 and the proposed budget for 2010 is $3,139,102.

That budget is about $176,000 under what the library currently expects to need for the year.

Barnes said that would mean laying off about four full-time positions across the library system.

“We’ve already cut hours at the Port Angeles, Clallam Bay and Forks branches,” Barnes said.

“In 1999 we had 38 employees — this year we have 21. Our budget to buy new materials was $350,000 in 1999, and this year it is $317,754.”

Regardless of which decision is reached, the board agreed that it would be a temporary measure.

Property tax measure

Barnes said a property tax levy lid lift would be considered in 2010 to help restore services to the system.

The reduction in the proposed materials budget — money used to buy new books — represents a 15 percent reduction since 1999.

From 2009 to 2010, it will mean a 3.8 percent decrease in materials.

“Really this is even more,” Barnes said.

“Because the cost of books has increased more than the inflation rate, reductions in the materials budget is even worse.”

Board member Jim Roberts said the budget cuts in materials would have a real impact.

“That is a real problem — I mean that is what we do here,” he said.

Board member Elaine Frederickson said she agreed.

“That is a real contradiction to our purpose,” she said.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladaily news.com.

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