Budget binding books

County Library System Board contends with 30 percent budget reduction

 


The first in a series of community meetings organized by the Carbon County Library System Board (CCLSB) will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Encampment Public Library. The CCLSB is grappling with county budget cuts of close to 30 percent, and is seeking patron input in order to help determine which library services are most important to residents.

“Rather than close a library here and there, the board decided to try to cut back on hours and services (to deal with the budget cuts)” Bobbie Morgan, executive director of the CCLSB said.

Morgan, who began serving as the director in April of this year, described the sharp reduction in funding as “(something) we’ve struggled with.”

The CCLSB represents eight different libraries with a flagship in Rawlins and satellite branches in Saratoga, Encampment/Riverside, Sinclair, Elk Mountain, Hanna, Medicine Bow and Baggs. Meetings to discuss how best to deal with the financing drop-off will be held every other week at a different location until each of the eight branches has added its input.


Following a Board of Carbon County Commissioners meeting in May, the CCLSB was told Carbon County would be reducing it’s contribution to the CCLSB from about $618,000 last year to about $473,000 for 2017. Along with money from the Carbon County Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity supporting area libraries, this gave the CCLSB a target budget of approximately $558,500. The CCSLB submitted a budget of roughly $570,000 and is waiting to hear whether or not the county will accept that slightly higher figure. The new budget will go into effect July 1, the start of fiscal year 2017.

The new budget drawn up by the CCLSB reflects many of the hard decisions that had to be made in order to keep all eight branches afloat. According to that document “staff changes at Rawlins” will result in nearly $95,000 in savings, with the Rawlins branch losing the equivalent of 3.25 staffers, according to Morgan. “We’re working very hard to keep the staff we have,” she said.

Reduced hours of operation at all eight branch locations will lower annual expenditures by an additional $19,000. On a weekly basis, patrons will be losing 47 hours of access to their libraries. Rawlins will be closed for 16 additional hours each week, the Saratoga location will lose 10 hours of being open weekly, and Encampment, Sinclair and Baggs patrons will all lose five hours a piece. Already rarely open, the libraries in Hanna, Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain will all lose two hours of operation apiece per week.

A programming budget for the library system has also been eliminated. In 2016, the library system spent roughly $5,700 to bring presenters on various topics to CarbonCounty libraries. In 2017, there will be no money allocated for those workshops, lectures and presentations.

“The staff is going to have to be extremely creative this year because we just don’t have enough money for everything,” Morgan said.

Materials budgets were also on the chopping block, Morgan said – “that’s your books, your cds your dvds.” Whereas last year $28,000 was spent on new materials, that total has been reduced by nearly half to $15,000 in 2017. A periodicals budget has likewise been knocked down to about $2,800 from a 2016 total of around $4,500, Morgan said.

“Almost everything has been reduced – drastically,” the CCLSB director summed up.

The community meetings are a way for the CCLSB to figure out how to most effectively allocate their limited resources. “We’re trying to get as many people at these meetings as possible so that we have a representative cross section (of patrons),” Morgan said.

Also attending the June 2 Encampment meeting will be CCLSB member Joanne Whitson. Following the June 2 meeting in Encampment, the next CCLSB community meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. June 20, at the Sinclair Public Library.

 

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