Library budget plan raises concern - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Library budget plan raises concern

Public hearing to be held Aug. 28 at Hayden Public Library

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Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 12:00 am

The proposed budget for the Community Library Network is raising Glen Seely's eyebrows.

Seely, one of the network's five board members, said he's concerned over a proposed 15 percent increase ($335,400) in total personnel costs.

Those include 2 to 7 percent raises for employees, an increase in hours for some workers and expanding benefits to where the network would pay for 25 percent of the health insurance cost for employee family members.

"We're jumping the moon on the total (personnel) line," Seely said. "We shouldn't be giving raises that can't be sustained in the coming years. Once you increase wages, it's very difficult to take them away.

"I'm going to ask the board if it will re-open the salary line again."

Employees don't have any cost for health care. Those who work 30 hours per week or more qualify for benefits.

The network has libraries in Hayden, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, Athol, Harrison and Pinehurst. It also operates a bookmobile.

John Hartung, the network's director, said the budget process is in its preliminary stages and the proposal could change based on tax revenue from the county. Therefore, nothing is set in stone, he said.

"There's been a disagreement that board members are going to have to wrestle with," Hartung said. "But we're not even close to having a final proposed budget."

The board will hold a budget workshop today at 1 p.m. at the Hayden Library. Another workshop will be held on Aug. 5 from 2-4 p.m. in Hayden. The public hearing on the budget will be Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. in Hayden.

Board members Judy Meyer and Katie Blank declined to comment on Thursday until the revenue figures are updated.

All sides agree that employees should get a raise of some sort, but the rub will be on how much. Last year some of the network's employees were given merit raises and two years ago no raises were given.

Under the proposal, 13 employees would get a 7 percent hike, 36 employees 5 percent, 22 employees 4 percent, six employees 3 percent and 12 employees 2 percent.

Hartung said a firm budget proposal won't be reached until the Aug. 5 workshop at the earliest. If necessary, another workshop will be helped before the public hearing, he said.

The network's total budget is proposed to increase from $4.9 million this year to $5.2 million in fiscal 2014.

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7 comments:

  • opa6x57 posted at 1:14 pm on Sat, Jul 27, 2013.

    opa6x57 Posts: 6

    I'm guessing you have a computer - and high-speed internet - and maybe even a smart phone or tablet. If you want a book, you get it online. If you want to look up some reference information, you 'google' it - or look in Wikipedia.

    So do I, most of the time.

    But, there are people in this county that do NOT have these luxuries. For these folks, the library is a place where they can go to get this kind of stuff. Access to books, reference material, and the internet for those that don't have it at home is one focus of the library.

    Might I suggest you actually visit the library - see how busy it is at times - and check out the various activities that are offered - before you make up your mind about this.

    (Sign me - Not a librarian, but know a couple of them.)

     
  • opa6x57 posted at 1:08 pm on Sat, Jul 27, 2013.

    opa6x57 Posts: 6

    I know many businesses that pay for health care for the employee. But many businesses expect the employee to pay for healthcare for the employee's family members. Public employees should be afforded this same benefit.

    The Library district is certainly not the only employer I've heard of that consider 30-hours per week to be 'full-time' - again, these public employees should be afforded this same benefit.

    As to the education/skill required to be a Librarian - to compare this to working at McDonalds is ludicrous. You might be surprised, voxpop, at the level of training, schooling and experience that library staff possess/require.

    (Sign me - Not a librarian, but know a couple of them.)

     
  • Why Not posted at 6:22 am on Sat, Jul 27, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 4531

    To my point, what is the justification? If you all haven’t noticed, libraries are not exactly a service in demand. As a taxpayer, justifying a 15% increase for personnel and beneficiary costs is absolutely necessary. If there is anything about government that is a given, it’s that reversing benefit and salary increases is no easy task.

    Personally, school bus drivers are a more important than library staff.

     
  • mister d posted at 7:36 am on Fri, Jul 26, 2013.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    I don't know who you hang around but three of my family members (in the private sector in CDA) have all received nice raises since the first of the year and two are getting all the overtime they can handle. Whenever I hear talk about private sector cuts in hours and benefits what comes to mind are companies that are probably being mismanaged or profits being stashed into management / owner pockets. CDA business is booming.

     
  • voxpop posted at 6:23 am on Fri, Jul 26, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "Employees don't have any cost for health care. Those who work 30 hours per week or more qualify for benefits."

    I can't think of many (any?) companies which don't ask their employees to contribute something for health care. Certainly those paid with tax dollars shouldn't be in that group.
    And another question to add to WHY NOT's is what's the learning curve for replacement employees. If it's similar to McDonald's then employees who don't like their pay can easily be replaced. This is Idaho after all. The nation's leader in minimum wage jobs.

     
  • DiViAnt posted at 5:19 am on Fri, Jul 26, 2013.

    DiViAnt Posts: 85

    What is the percent raise for the soon to be retiring employees?

     
  • Why Not posted at 4:14 am on Fri, Jul 26, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 4531

    When private sector employees are having hours cut, paying more for benefits and any thought of pay raises is a pipe dream, is this the right thing to do? Some questions to ask include, have the job tasks become harder or do they require more expertise? How about library services? Are the libraries servicing more clients, or are we just pacifying the needs of public servants at more cost to the taxpayers?

     
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