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Archive for Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Public to feel library cuts

Shorter hours, fewer materials likely after budget reduction

May 22, 2007

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City facing major budget cuts

With the city of Lawrence facing major budget cuts due to a revenue shortfall -- more details on the potential impacts emerge tonight. One location likely to see some noticeable changes due to a 6% funding cut - the Lawrence Public Library. Enlarge video

There likely will be fewer new books and less time to check them out if the Lawrence Public Library is ordered to follow through on $177,000 worth of budget cuts.

Bruce Flanders, executive director of the library, said Monday that his staff still was working on options to respond to a 6 percent cut that City Manager David Corliss is recommending to shore up a troubled city budget. But Flanders said the most likely scenario would be to cut the library's hours of operation and reduce the number of books and materials the library purchases.

"It is probably going to be noticeable to the public, whatever we do," Flanders said.

Flanders said he hopes to have some recommendations for the city's Library Board - the group that oversees the library's operations - to consider by the end of the month. Flanders said he could envision up to a 10 percent cut in library hours, which would amount to a reduction of about eight hours per week.

Surveys have found that library use is at its lowest during the early weekday hours. Flanders said opening the library later than 9 a.m. on weekdays might be an option.

The library is open 73 hours per week: from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

A reduction in hours, though, won't be enough to meet the $177,000 in ordered cuts. Flanders said a preliminary analysis found that cutting library operations by four hours a week for the remainder of 2007 would result in about $25,000 in savings.

Flanders said cutting back on book purchases was another likely option. The library has about $300,000 remaining in its budget this year to buy new materials.

"The budget we have now for new purchases is not extraordinary," Flanders said.

He said cutting back on purchases could create a "gap in information" the library may have to live with for years.

At least one city commissioner, though, wants to discuss the possibility of modifying the cuts that Corliss has recommended. Commissioner Boog Highberger said he was concerned about the cuts to the library and several social service agencies.

"I have concerns about doing this to organizations that we already have made a commitment to," Highberger said. "Rearranging our city budget is one thing, but asking people and organizations to rearrange their budgets on such short notice makes me a little uncomfortable."

Other commissioners, however, backed Corliss' approach of ordering 6 percent across the board cuts for all outside agencies - organizations that are not technically part of the city's governmental operations.

"I think we have to approach all these outside agencies with the same percentage decrease in funding," City Commissioner Mike Dever said. "If you start making choices between individual agencies, you end up with a political scene that we're trying to avoid."

Flanders said he understands the city is facing about a $1 million shortfall in sales tax collections and expects to see a significant slowdown in growth of property tax receipts. But he said it was still disappointing to see the library's budget on the chopping block - given there's been a lot of discussion about building a new library and improving library services.

"We have set new levels of use for the library for many years running now, and we fear that could come to a screeching halt later this year because we're not going to be able to provide the level of service that the public is used to," Flanders said.

City commissioners will discuss the proposed budget cuts at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Comments

monkeyhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

"At least one city commissioner, though, wants to discuss the possibility of modifying the cuts that Corliss has recommended. Commissioner Boog Highberger said he was concerned about the cuts to the library and several social service agencies."

"I have concerns about doing this to organizations that we already have made a commitment to," Highberger said. "Rearranging our city budget is one thing, but asking people and organizations to rearrange their budgets on such short notice makes me a little uncomfortable."

Imagine that, a commissioner opposed to entitlement cutbacks. One of the commissioners responsible for this magic budget shortfall, no less.

The commitment of ALL commissioners should be to the taxpayer, the "customer", not to the recipients of the taxpayers' "generosity".

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

Let me get this straight. The library's annual budget is $3 million?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

"Get rid of the library. It's a useless old fashioned dinasaur. Turn it into "The Museum" of what used to be."

An appropriate comment from a demonstrated semi-literate poster.

temperance 7 years, 7 months ago

"An appropriate comment from a demonstrated semi-literate poster." Couldn't have said it better . . .

aquakej 7 years, 7 months ago

I thought they were about to improve the library, not cut its' budget.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

aquakej, You have been misinformed. They were not about to "improve" the library. Leeches of the public dollar have proposed building an entirely new library. Cost: $30 million.

You can only imagine how many millions of dollars annually would be required to run a brand new building.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

25 years of mismanaging growth is not the city managers fault. Remember the uncontrolled growth city and planning commissioners!!!! Now the unreliable boom town economy is hitting bottom at the expense of citizen taxpayers.

Perhaps the latest " quality of life" sales tax proposal was in fact more about shoring up a mismanaged growth machine who refused to invoke a Cost of Community Services Study and detailed economic and retail impact studies because they knew more than any study could provide. Working with current numbers would be a frugal idea. I say it is better to KNOW what is not working rather than forge ahead using speculation as your guiding light.

perkins 7 years, 7 months ago

Even though the public library is not as critical in the internet age as it once was, I agree with those who smell a rat in the decision of which agencies/services to cut. Let's thwart the tax-and-spenders by managing to live with the cuts.

blackwalnut 7 years, 7 months ago

Mayor Hack should stop talking about the city buying the Farmland Industries site.

No more new roads and road "improvements". Cancel that road "improvement" at 6th/George Williams Way, we can't afford the $200,000 the city agreed to pay.

Leave the library alone, it's strapped already.

Oracle_of_Rhode 7 years, 7 months ago

My easy as pie solution to fund the library at 100 percent is to eliminate all public funding of golf. The Public Golf Fund accounts for revenues and expenditures associated with the operation of Eagle Bend Golf Course. The Public Golf Fund has authorized expenditures of $1,022,786 or .81% of the total City budget.

If a city cannot afford the educational resource of a library for its citizens, it should not be paying over a $1 million annually to fund golf for rich people who can afford the clubs, tasseled shoes, etc.

According to golf.com, today's average golfer is 40 years old, has a household income of $68,000+ and plays 19 rounds a year. On average, golfers spend over $2.5 billion on golf related purchases and over $24 billion on golf travel.

These wealthy people should NOT be subsidized by Lawrence taxpayers. Fund the library.

karensisson 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm with Boog. Boog has his priorities correct, in my opinion.

gccs14r 7 years, 7 months ago

"No more new roads and road "improvements". Cancel that road "improvement" at 6th/George Williams Way, we can't afford the $200,000 the city agreed to pay."

I thought it was $2.5 million, not $200k. Either way, the City shouldn't spend the money.

Eileen Emmi Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

That sure sounds like a Republican idea: Cut funding that nurtures minds and supports education, but keep spending money to support big business.

Boog Highberger is right.There are other things to cut besides the library.

rhd99 7 years, 7 months ago

Light Bulb = IDEA!:) How 'bout the City Commission CUTS the WASTE it produces through it's stupid consultants who are overpriced (I totally agree) & eliminate roundabout spending. By the way how long has that Kasold Bridge & road been under construction? I know what's behind that - roundabout waste & cost overruns! Prioritize better commis or y'all will be without jobs come next election cycle!!

Confrontation 7 years, 7 months ago

Honestly, what will the homeless do during those 4 hours?

altarego 7 years, 7 months ago

"We have set new levels of use for the library for many years running now, and we fear that could come to a screeching halt later this year because we're not going to be able to provide the level of service that the public is used to,"

Screeching halt?

Oh, come on. That kind of hyperbole is for semi-literate anonymous commenters like me. Not library directors.

This is exactly why I don't believe anything anybody says. Ever.

temperance 7 years, 7 months ago

I think Oracle_of_Rhode has a great plan.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

"Now if only we could get back the quarter of a million that was wasted on overpriced consultants."

Then the mayor and and 3(2 new) other commissioners CHOSE NOT to believe what they were advised... over built in residential and 30% over built in retail. If it were not for those facts most of the creative great ideas they left behind could be applied.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

"I'm with Boog." karensisson "Boog Highberger is right." EmJones

Do these people actually exist? These Boog Highberger supporters? I'm feeling very sick all of a sudden.

May Soo 7 years, 7 months ago

Yeh, just cut everything, and maybe they can use the money to build a mental hospital.

Mkh 7 years, 7 months ago

Blackwalnut: "Cancel that road "improvement" at 6th/George Williams Way, we can't afford the $200,000 the city agreed to pay"


EXACTLY! The misuse of funds to "improve" George Williams Way is beyond ridiculous. The city commission members should be checked for mental health disorders. I just drove down George Williams Way an hour ago and it is FINE. One of the best roads in the city as a matter a fact. And the roundabout proposal is absurd, there is not even enough room between the proposed site and the stop sign to go over 20mph.

I thought this new commission was going to save us from idiot spending of this kind? Huh? I think I'm going to show up at the next commission meeting with a rubber hose and beat some sense into them.

RKLOG 7 years, 7 months ago

I would vote for Oracle_of_Rhode if running with that platform.

KsTwister 7 years, 7 months ago

If the Library could not manage with the cuts I highly doubt the city would have ok'd them. They can wait for the budget to shape up but if they can not help the city with the temporary hold on expenditures then they are as greedy as the rest of the special interests. There comes a day when you have to pay the piper, the glut of past commissions drained the extra funds that would have managed this.

Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 7 months ago

I would be very happy to see everyone posting on this board filing for the next city commission elections.

KsTwister 7 years, 7 months ago

Gee Wilbur, I can't tell what issues you specifically agree with, but overall that everyone(including non posters) thinks there is waste in Lawrence. You are 100% correct.

Oracle: Eagle Bend employees are due for a 3% wage/benefit adjustments this year too; tack it on. I am not sure how many employees are working there.

blackwalnut 7 years, 7 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says: Think about it. construction makes jobs. Keeping the library open does not(why is the library hiring help when there is a budget cut?)..they are!

Library hours don't make jobs?????

Maybe student employees are graduating or leaving for the summer so library has vacancies?

Glad you aren't running anything.

blackwalnut 7 years, 7 months ago

Has anyone noticed?

A few weeks ago they were pushing a new $30 mill library, maybe a new post office too.

Election over. Hack proposes a new tax.

Suddenly we're broke and library budget gets cut.

Have I been in a coma for ten years, or did things really change this quickly?

gccs14r 7 years, 7 months ago

"Have I been in a coma for ten years, or did things really change this quickly?"

"Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted."

I don't know what the voters were smoking, but it was good stuff. No one in their right mind is surprised by what has happened since the election. Greed may not work, but its outcome is consistent.

gccs14r 7 years, 7 months ago

"How do you suppose the public would react if the City Manger came forward and announced that he had been able to resolve a number of matters of inefficiency and waste in the City budget instead of cutting the library, etc.?" I suppose that would depend on whether "the public" included those who found themselves "surplussed". I have no doubt that some of the folks on the public dole have supposedly straight jobs with the city, county, or State.

Kat Christian 7 years, 7 months ago

Well this just doesn't make sense. Why build a new library if they are going to cut hours of operations and allowing new books to come in? Yet, they wanted to spend some millions of dollars building a new one. Can anyone explain this to me? Just doesn't see to equate here.

Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 7 months ago

Marion wrote: "...resolve a number of matters of inefficiency and waste in the City budget instead of cutting the library...."

Stop it, Marion. Everyone knows the library IS a matter of inefficiency and waste in the City budget. It's true--I read it right here in the threads on these forums--and everyone knows that what is written on these threads is the truth!

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