Reduced acquisitions, six-day weeks, reducing or eliminating Novello – all are under consideration.
By April Bethea, charlotte.com, Feb. 27, 2009
No libraries open on Sunday. Layoffs. Less money for books, CDs and movies. A smaller Novello reading festival this fall, or none at all.
Those are some of the scenarios officials with the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County are considering as part of a plan to cut money in the next fiscal year.
The proposals follow a request from the county that its departments submit budgets with cuts up to 20 percent of current funding. The goal: to close an estimated $70 million gap in the budget year that starts July 1.
The library system receives more than $35.76 million, or 85 percent, of its budget from the county.
A 20 percent cut would mean about $7 million less, Director Charles Brown told trustees on Thursday.
To help reach that target, Brown said officials are considering cutting 150 jobs, including all 97 of the library's part-time employees and 20 to 25 full-time employees. Library employees also could have to take four days of unpaid leave.
Library trustees asked staff to consider ways to avoid or reduce the number of layoffs, including salary cuts or additional furloughs.
Among other possible cuts: $2 million from collections, which could cut in half the number of books, movies, music and other materials purchased by the library next year.
The library also may cut back, or put on hold, its annual Novello reading festival this year. The event isn't paid for using county funds. But trustee Joan Martin said putting the festival on hold this year could show the library system is being “fiscally responsible.”
Brown told trustees the $7 million in cuts in county funding is a “worst case scenario.” County administrators have said departments may not be asked to cut the full 20 percent next year.
County commissioners will approve the county budget, which includes funding for the library, in June.
County Manager Harry Jones recently asked the library and parks systems to study reducing hours at or closing some facilities for one day during the week. Brown said officials have discussed closing all facilities on Sundays, and keeping community branches open only five days a week.
The library also is cutting $750,000 out of the current budget as part of efforts to close a $69 million shortfall in the county budget this year.