Wednesday, March 25, 2009

09/10 Town budget - library & finance

Just a quickie to wrap up last night's budget meeting...

There's a proposal to eliminate Sunday hours at the Library, despite the Library Director's statement that Saturday and Sunday are the two busiest days. Ignoring the hurdles of budgets and labor agreements, I suggested we close earlier or open later during the week... then use that savings to maintain the more popular weekend hours. Or, in an effort to save money, we could simply scale back hours?

Similarly with the Finance Department (this includes the Assessor, Collector, Public Properties and others), there is seasonal work. It seems to me that spending needs to be reduced. So the spending reductions should be everywhere... not just a few individuals and / or departments. It seems to me that spending reductions are possible here too. If done across the board, people could take a minor reduction in hours and still keep their bene's. My goal is to reduce spending, but to avoid significant disruptions to peoples' lives if possible.

If reductions are across the board, they could go a long way toward reducing taxes and spending... while still maintaining a great degree of stability in both services and (knock on wood) employee morale.

I'm not sure how bargaining units would effect my suggestions.

Tim White

20 comments:

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Just out of curiousity, has the library seen a decline in users over the last 5-10 years with advances in the Internet?

Also, would it make sense to combine the town library with the school libraries? I could see saving alot of money by combining the total number of books between 7 locations. This could reduce how much we spend by not having to buy multiple copies of each book. Then we could rotate stock to keep the selection fresh with minimal investment. -Idea would probably need some tweeking but I think it would be feasable. Would probably see more of a future savings than imediate.

Anonymous said...

Great idea to share between libraries. Such a great idea that if you want a book at one library that is only at another library the two libraries already know how to transfer the book if you ask for it.

Go try it, you'll like it. Of course check the hours of operation before you do because it seems likely the hours are going to be cut.

Anonymous said...

DOSENT THE LIBRARY FUNCTION WITH REDUCED STAFF ON SUNDAYS... WHY NOT REDUCE THE LABOR POOL DURING THE WEEK. IF SUNDAY IS THE BUSIEST AND IT OPERATES WITH FEWER EMPLOYESS......... DO WE NEED FULL STAFF M-F

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

What are the school librarians doing during the summer? Between 6 schools and the library, how many are we employing? couldnt we pool them all together and reduce the number through attrition?

Anonymous said...

If Sunday is the busiest day and they need to close one day, then close on the least busy day.

Anonymous said...

The main library is doing just fine.

I get the feeling that some of the posters that suggest combining libraries, don't go and if they did they would not be suggesting a combination.

The library is probably one of the busiest offerings the town has. If the pool got as much traffic, there would be a lot more users and fewer complainers.

Hey posters, go to the library and find out how many services are offered there.

What I don't like, is that it was unionized and that worries me. Up until unionization, the job attracted people who love books, it might now attract another group of people who treat it like just any other job like some of the teachers.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

My thinking was if we could reduce the amount of repetitive purchases we make, and if the librarians were available to help in the main and school libraries, than we could save their jobs and the hours that they work. I was not implying that we shut the library or remove services. Just streamline 2 groups working for the same town doing the same job.

I would never ask to close the library if it is being used.

Anonymous said...

Combining the Main Library with the school libraries is not the answer. Library science is an important tool to teach our children. It isn't just about getting books. It is about research and understanding of how a library operates.
We need to find other ways to cut. I am all for short staffing the pool or closing it entirely on the slowest day.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

The problem we are running into is the people for the library are looking to take from other services, like the pool. People that are for exercise and physical welbeing that do not use the library are for the pool. The pool, in it's current configuration will never be self sustaining whereas the library could tweak it's operation (like buying less books and combining all the town librarians) and continue to operate as is. As long as we have the pool, the town will be hard pressed to close it.

Anonymous said...

"Library science is an important tool to teach our children. It isn't just about getting books. It is about research and understanding of how a library operates." - I hate to break it to you but libraries are becoming obsolete. Other than reading a free newspaper.....

Anonymous said...

We should demand a non consultant, non Cheshire resident, non direct benefit person review the idea of sharing talent and staff between the school and town libraries. What does that hurt to look into id services and staff cold be combined for the betterment of the residents. Forgot, so stupid of m to think that the Town ans BOE would want to explore anything that would reduce costs and improve services.

Anonymous said...

"I hate to break it to you but libraries are becoming obsolete. Other than reading a free newspaper....."

Your not breaking it to anyone. Your statement shows you don't go to the library and don't know anything about it or the people whose lives are enriched by by its many services.

Anonymous said...

Just how would Mr. DeVylder propose combining school libraries and the public library? The computer systems are not compatible and the public library is part of a consortium of 30 libraries from towns across Connecticut. How many school libraries carry New York Times Best Seller list books? Or provide books on job searching, writing resumes, tax help, finding a nursing home, gardening, cooking, quilting, etc, etc, etc. Schools close for holidays, vacations, snow days, summers. Do schools want strangers coming into their libraries to see if a certain book is available. And Mr. DeVylder - have you ever used the public library? There is no comparison to the services offered by a school library vs. a public library. Perhaps you should visit a public library and see for yourself.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

I suggested combining the resources. I can honestly say that I do stop at the library a few times a year.

Here is my suggestion based on your response. Combining the library services, NY Times best sellers can be made available in the school libraries without the school system having to purchase the books. At the same time, the schools can put more childrens books into the town library during the summer months for kids. A class studying a specific topic can request books from the town library. This kind of accessablity can help students by bringing the information to them.

All of the other book topics you mentioned can be found in the Dodd and CHS libraries. Adults do not have access to the books that the students do. I would not allow non-students into the schools at any time. Simply asking the public librarian to reserve/request a book would surfice. It's no different than requesting a inter-library transfer.

Like I said, I have nothing against the library. Unfortunatly, the internet is going to make it obsolete in 20 years. The internet is simply taking over information accessablity the same way the grocery store took over for butchers, bakers, the milkman ect.. All I was suggesting was a way to keep the public library interesting to the public and unique to Cheshire.

Anonymous said...

If you were to read ANY newspaper, you would see that library usage is on the RISE, not decline. As more and more people are losing their jobs and cutting back, they are coming to the library. They cannot afford to go and purchase these items. If you read the Library's public blog, you can see exactly how much the library saves its townspeople from purchasing those items themselves- it comes out to TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Combining the school library with the town library is a ridiculous idea. If your thought is to cut back on buying repeat items, then forget having our school children do any kind of project. Need a book on Iowa, but there is only 1 copy at Norton? Oh well. You need multiple copies in a town of this size to service the number of people. Often times, more than 1 child does a project on the same topic. What if ten children do a project on Iowa? Again, oh well little Johnny.
If you are a registered user at the library, your card is good at any of the 30 libraries in the state- you don't even have to register there. You can have a book on Iowa sent to Cheshire from Windsor FREE OF CHARGE.
Yes, the library functions with reduced staff on Sundays, but you are failing to remember all of the labor that goes on behind the scenes. Think those books get covered and barcoded and labeled on put on the shelves by themselves? Think they get purchased on their own? Think programs are scheduled on their own? If you want a reduced library staff during the week, then you'll have to cover the books yourself.
FYI- a person who works at a school library is different than a town or college librarian. School librarians take the PRAXIS exam, which is the same test our teachers take and town librarians in reference and children's departments have the Master in Library Science. School librarians are teachers as well. What they do compared to town or college librarians is not the same.
Another FYI- libraries are not becoming obsolete. There are more and more people coming, checking out movies, free of charge, using wifi, going to programs, getting ahead on early childhood learning, and using the adult reading program and children's summer reading programs. The computers, all five or so, are ALWAYS being utilized.
And, finally, think of all the money the town gets from the overdue fines. $2 a day for a late DVD can add up pretty quickly- library doesn't set that price, town council does, Mr. White. And the library doesn't see that money- it goes into a general fund.
If you don't understand the importance of a library in times like this, or for that matter in any time, then you are not a user of the library. Go to the library and you'll find people of ALL ages (one of the few things in the town that people of all ages, physical and mental abilities, and intelligence levels can enjoy) who value the importance of what they offer.

tim white said...

During an economic downturn, government services get used more.

Crime increases, police work goes up.

Households can't afford their heating bill, they turn to social services.

People pinch pennies on stuff like video rentals, library use goes up.

I rediscovered the library about a year ago. The library gets used a lot. And I think "circulation" has been increasing every year for the five years I've been on the Council. The library staff do a great job in my opinion.

tim white said...

The library budget is particularly tough for me. While recognizing that police and fire are kind of like "insurance policies," the libary is the only service I regularly and actively use in the town. I go to the parks sometimes, but I don't have any kids.

I'm just hoping there are five votes for balanced reductions in the budget because this year everyone needs to cut back to some extent. I don't want to see a budget that favors / hurts anyone in particular.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

I stand corrected. I now understand from March 31, 2009 6:06 PM more than I did. For the record, I was thinking that 2 departments could work together. I wasnt looking to start any fights. Just throwing an idea out there that didnt stick to the wall.

tim white said...

$2 a day for a late DVD can add up pretty quickly- library doesn't set that price, town council does, Mr. White.

you raise an interesting point about the Council setting late fees.

For years I had been told that the Council sets fees. But last year the Council voted to set fees for the pool. And a week ago I learned that the TM unilaterally reduced those fees. The argument offered by the TM was that fewer people were using the pool, so he decided to lower fees. I asked for further explanation, but the answer was inadequate IMO.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that due to our TM, our town is in a much better financial condition than many others. There has been a great deal of long term thinking throughout the years. This economy presents a challenge to all of us.