The Saratoga Sun -

Eleventh hour deal on the books

Libraries to stay open with reduced hours

 


A series of last minute financial tweaks roughly sketched out at a June 20 public meeting of the Carbon County Library System Board (CCLSB) will keep all library branches open with significant hour reductions across the board.

In total, patrons will be losing 47 hours of access to the CCLSB’s eight libraries each week due to deep cuts in county funding. The flagship location in Rawlins and the Saratoga branch library will lose the most hours, taking hits of 16 and 10 hours respectively. The libraries in Baggs, Encampment and Sinclair will each lose five hours weekly. Already spottily open, the libraries in Hanna, Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain will shut down an extra two hours per week each.

The reduced hours were announced following a bruising budgetary tug-of-war between the CCLSB and the Carbon County Commissioners (see page 3).

Though the CCLSB ultimately landed on an operating budget that Carbon County Commissioner Sue Jones said would be acceptable to her fellow commissioners, the hasty deal left many questions unanswered.

The meeting at the Sinclair Public Library, which would have been closed July 1 under earlier iterations of the CCLSB budget, began on a frosty note. With about 25 members of the public attending, Commissioner Jones, CCLSB Director Bobbie Morgan and CCLSB Chair Joanne Whitson exchanged a series of testy quips during the first 90 minutes of the gathering. Line by budgetary line, the officials disputed one another’s figures, assigned each other blame and presented their cases to the public with speeches and counterpoints.

Eventually, Jones came to the front of the room and presented a budget she had worked out using figures harvested from several different budgets prepared by Morgan. Jones brought 10 copies of her budget to the meeting, and distributed them to several members of the audience. It was at this point that the already murky proceedings drifted completely into the weeds for attending members of the public.

With Jones and the CCLSB toggling back and forth between several different budgets written over the course of the months-long negotiation process, following the trail of rapidly shifting figures was difficult for those present. Technical difficulties with the libraries aging computers and in finding numbers Jones had plucked from different budgets the CCLSB has prepared over the last several months prevented those present from easily following the commissioner’s line of thought. Eventually, a break was announced by Whitson.

During the nearly thirty minute intermission following the presentation of her

 

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