Library board talks budget cuts

DeWayne Bartels

The Peoria Public Library Board yesterday agreed to try to put together at least $320,000 worth of cuts to present to the Peoria City Council on

Tuesday.

The city council, facing a $10 million budget deficit in 2010, has asked the library board to come up with at least $400,000 in cuts.  

Greg Johnston, chairman of the library board’s finance committee, said the committee proposes a wage freeze and a hiring freeze which would trim $242,841 from the library budget. The wage freeze, however, is a question mark because the union employees have not yet been approached.

Johnston said cuts to materials for the library could potentially cut another $200,000 from the budget. He said the staff is being asked to consider what cuts to make to books and other materials.

The board agreed it will not cut student pages, a line item amounting to more than $140,000 annually. They also decided not to support cutting cell phones.

A two-week furlough of all employees causing a total shutdown of the library system was rejected. A furlough would have resulted in a $134,566 reduction in the budget.

“A furlough is a serious reduction in pay for our employees. We want to avoid that,” board member Mike McKenzie said.

Library director Ed Szynaka suggested the board reconvene on Monday in advance of their presentation to the city council.

“We must be careful. Whatever we put on the table will be swept up,” Szynaka said. “We are talking about tactics.”

Library board president Brian Ruddell, said, following the meeting he is aware their target of $325,000 to $350,000 in cuts falls short of the $400,000 the city council asked for in cuts. He said he is also aware the city is asking city department heads to look for even more cuts.

“If we can do better than that we will,” Ruddell said. “But, I don’t think we can go any further. We want to do our part.”