My City Councilor is posing as the champion of the Library that he, with the help of our Mayor and a few others on Council, has systematically sought to dismantle. He's counting on the public's memory being short. It is. When the Library is dead and gone he'll be remembered as the scrappy dude who tried to save it, not the guy who was pounding the nails in the Libary's coffin all along. Read the article:
Ordered cuts force tough library choices
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Facing a demand from city council to cut almost $800,000 from its 2008 budget without closing branches or clawing back hours, Windsor's library board contiunues to wrestle with unpalatable options, said the chairman of the board.
And because about $6 million of the library's $8.8-million budget is tied up in wages and benefits for its 170 employees, the board is actually trying to slash more than 25 per cent from the remaining $2.8 million.
"It's already bone on bone," said board chairman and Coun. Alan Halberstadt, following a meeting Friday. "If we do not cut hours and close branches, we may have to decide what kind of branches we want.
"Do we want fully serviced libraries or do we want to turn them into rest stations where people can read free newspapers, socialize and come in out of the extreme weather?" said Halberstadt.
Closing four unspecified branches and eliminating Sunday hours except at the central branch would achieve the desired savings but council has demanded they be found without reducing services.
Reducing spending on materials would lengthen the wait for books that is already six months long for some titles. Such cuts would further erode the library's usage figures, which fall below the median for cities of Windsor's size across Ontario.
None of the suggestions raised Friday are binding, since the four-person board doesn't have enough members to legally make decisions and won't return to its full seven-member strength until January at the earliest.
Doug McNeil, president of CUPE Local 2067.1, which represents almost 90 workers, said "the board is in a very tough position and I think we'll ultimately have to look at Sunday closings.
"Perhaps not a complete year-round cutback but a limited schedule of Sunday hours might be workable," said McNeil.
The contract between the library board and the local expires Dec. 31 and discussions on a new agreement are expected to begin in February.
"I don't know how you negotiate salary reductions," said Halberstadt. "And there's not a lot of room to reduce staff if you keep the same number of branches open so we're really in an almost impossible position."
According to provisions in the Library Act, council has the right to determine how much funding to provide but it's up to the board to decide how and where it's spent. As a result, the board could force a showdown with council if it decides that closures and reduced hours are the only answer to the budget crunch.
"These are clearly unreasonable demands at the same time as you want the same level of services to be maintained," said Halberstadt.
© The Windsor Star 2007
Really Alan? More unreasonable than when you were on the budget committee demanding a $750,000 cut to the Library's budget at the same time as demanding a new branch be opened in your Ward? What's changed?