Plattsburgh Public Library’s Board of Directors discuss a plan that could save four positions and increase the library’s financial stability.
Plattsburgh Public Library’s Board of Directors voted Dec. 20 on a plan that would save four positions that had been slated for elimination.
The plan is contingent on the union and library employees agreeing to a number of concessions, including forgoing pay raises for the next four years and to a 15-percent contribution toward health insurance. Further, the Plattsburgh Common Council would need to contribute $60,000.
The plan already has the support of several library employees, compared to a budget met with skepticism presented by local leaders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union representing library workers.
“Everybody across the board has to give in,” said Suzanne Barton.
Barton’s position as a clerk for the Plattsburgh Public library is on the chopping block.
“It means a severe cut in pay for everybody,” she said.
The Plattsburgh Public Library, faced with a $150,000 deficit, approved a budget that eliminated four positions. Since then there has been much public outcry and suggestions to help the library financially.
The plan presented by the union that represents the library employees would save four positions and included various concessions such as a zero-percent pay increase for a year and a half, $12,6000 in health-insurance contributions and an end to overtime.
It also included cuts in supplies, repairs, printing, contracted services and the book budget.
“Some of it makes sense, but there are areas I have a problem with,” said Plattsburgh Public library Board of Directors member Harold Brohinsky. “I am not prepared to cut the book budget by $38,000. That is what the library is all about.”
“I am not prepared to move this to action.”
“This is a short-term solution,” said Board Chair Roland Lockwood. “We need longer than that to get the library back in shape.”
Other board members felt the same as they moved on to the plan presented by Tim Carpenter, Plattsburgh Common Council member and liaison to the Plattsburgh Public Library.
Carpenter’s four-year plan, among other things, would have the union work with the board to resolve the cost of overtime and only reduce the book budget $5,000 to $10,000.
The union would have to agree to drop all grievances for a savings of $11,000.
The union would further have to sign a four-year contract with 0-percent raises and a 15-percent contribution toward health insurance from all employees.
Library employees would only be able to earn 12 sick days instead of 24, and a new grievance process would be instituted. It would include a grievance committee of two union representatives, two board members, one management and a facilitator.
Carpenter said if the agreements can be approved by Dec. 28 with the union’s blessing he can request additional funding of $60,000 from the City of Plattsburgh.
“I am extremely confident I can get this money,” he said. “All those pieces have to come out that way. The union is going to have to sacrifice a little.”
Principal Library Clerk Jody Helfgott does not have a problem with that.
“We are willing to make the sacrifice.”
Carpenter admitted it wasn’t a great contract, but he said it keeps the library stable for four years.
“Bring this budget back to the library and let them decide,” he said. “Let the workers determine their own fate.”
If the plan is not approved, the library’s Board of Directors indicated it would utilize its original budget, cutting the four positions.