Library board opts to move slowly on budget-reduction plan

Whether the Carson City Library Board of Trustees can take a deal offered by the city that trades city-provided maintenance for an adequately funded book budget - and still allow the library to vie for state and federal grants - still is up for debate.

City Manager Linda Ritter proposed combining two part-time library jobs: the responsibilities of a maintenance-shipping clerk and a maintenance worker would be swapped out for services of one full-time city maintenance worker. This would remove an expense of more than $58,000 from the overall budget.

"This is the last facility to stand on its own" for maintenance, she told the board during a meeting Tuesday night.

The city has been moving toward providing centralized maintenance and custodial services to all departments through its Utilities Division, and would like to include one last operation - the public library, Ritter said. The city would then provide $24,000 toward the books and material budget.

Of the less-than-$1.7 million total budget, at least 10 percent must be devoted to acquiring books and materials. State code regarding the issue, Section 379.087, stipulates that any grants "must not supplant or cause to be reduced any other source of funding for a public library."

The intent of the library board seems to be the main determinant, said Sara Jones, division administrator of the Nevada State Library and Archives. She allocates state money to public libraries, among her other duties.

If the board's intent appears to be strictly budget motivated and causes a reduction in service, the library could lose its eligibility to obtain state and federal grants to further bolster the materials budget. Ritter's proposal would be smart for the sake of efficiency, but not as a budget-cutting device, Jones said.

That the swap is coupled with the budget difficulties "is troubling," she said.

For example, library board Vice Chairwoman Phyllis Patton worries it would be construed as a service reduction because there are dozens of maintenance duties done by library maintenance staff now that a city-managed crew won't do.

Referring to a detailed list of 72 maintenance duties now performed by library maintenance staff, Patton said the city maintenance crew would only do 17 of them.

Even if the board were to find a way to match last year's budget, it still wouldn't be enough, and "is still a reduction if it doesn't increase with inflation," said Pat Glick, a member of the Library Foundation.

Prices for books and other materials "have skyrocketed," she said.

The board opted to examine the budget, and has scheduled a workshop April 20 at 5:30 p.m. to decide whether cuts or budget adjustments can help them reach their goal of a 10 percent reduction, yet still allow the library to operate properly.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.


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