Move will save $30,000 for remainder of 2016, board also votes on cutting spending for materials
JAMESTOWN – The James Prendergast Library will be reducing the number of hours that it will be open each week, starting in July.
On Thursday the library board of trustees held its monthly meeting and voted cut the hours of operation by 10.5 hours per week. The move means the library will now be open only 55 hours each week rather than the current 65.5 hours.
The new hours of operation, starting July 1, will be:
- Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Library officials say the reduction in hours will save the library more than $30,000 during the second half of this year. The savings would come via cuts in staffing.
The board also said it’s likely the library will not fill a currently vacant maintenance position, which will result in another $20,000 in savings for this year. Between the two, the library will see $50,000 in salary expenses cut from the current year’s budget and will help to close a looming budget gap for next year.
BOARD CUTS BACK ON MATERIAL PURCHASES
In addition the board also acted on a motion to cut spending on new materials (such as books and DVDs) by $24,000, bringing the total line item down to $74,000 for the year. The $24,000 was to come out of the library’s endowment fund and the board voted 3 to 2 on returning that amount to the endowment. Board members Tom Price and Michelle McRay voted against the motion, with Price against the idea of returning the money to the endowment, saying it may have to be used for some other expense later in the year.
Board president Tom Rankin explained that the Thursday’s budget cuts were not the result of any shortfalls in the current year’s budget, but intended instead to be a proactive step to prepare for financial challenges in 2017.
“We’re a not-for-profit,” Rankin explained to WRFA following the meeting. “Our goal is to have enough money to pay the bills starting January 1. So we don’t know what the city will do with [it’s annual contribution] and we don’t know what the foundations will do. We’re trying to create a rainy day fund at this point so that when we do hit January 1, 2017, we have some money in the bank.”
The board’s budget cuts come following a public referendum earlier this month when voters rejected an $850,000 annual funding initiative for the library, which would have been paid via a tax on property owners in the Jamestown School District. In addition the city of Jamestown is facing major financial challenges for 2017 and may have to reduce or completely eliminate it’s annual contribution to the library, which was $350,000 for the current year.
Prior to Thursday’s cuts the library’s operating budget for 2016 was $1,132,000. In 2015 it was $1,188,000.
STRATEGIC PLANNING TO BEGIN THIS SUMMER
Rankin also addressed the public at the start of the meeting, noting that the library was disappointed with the funding initiative, but that they respect the outcome and the process, adding that it’s time to move forward. As a result he said the board has traditionally taken the months of July and August off and reconvened in September, but given the financial concerns on the horizon, it will hold meetings both in July and August. During that time the board will also begin the process of working on a multi-year strategic plan for the library, with Rankin saying that the process will include input from various stakeholders, including patrons and and the general public.
Rankin also once again indicated the the library’s art collection, which has an estimated value of $3.17 million, will likely have to be sold in an effort to add money to the endowment. In December the board said it would hold off on auctioning the collection until at least January 2017. That decision was made after a Texas-based couple, Jesse and Cathy Marion, with local ties offered to donate $60,000 to the library. In exchange the library would give those who want to see the collection stay in Jamestown one year to identify local supporters who’d be willing to purchase the collection and keep it in town so that it can continue to be available for the public to view.