The Plattsburgh Public Library, faced with a $150,000 shortfall, cut four positions despite public outcry.
Suzanne Barton has four children, her husband’s pay has been slashed and she just found out she’s losing her job at the Plattsburgh Public Library.
“I am going to be the first clerk to go,” she said, in tears at Monday night’s Plattsburgh Public Library Board special meeting.
Faced with a $150,000 shortfall, the board of directors voted to cut four positions, two librarians, one clerk and one paige.
Board members said they love the library too, but cuts had to be made somewhere.
“The library is not a business,” said board member Harold Brohinsky. “You have to decide what to sacrifice.”
A large crowd gathered for Monday night’s meeting.
Plattsburgh resident Shera Marston is concerned about living in a community that doesn’t support its library.
“The city will have to contribute to the library,” she said. “They haven’t been very supportive.”
Plattsburgh Common Council member Tim Carpenter, liaison to the library, said several departments have requested more money, and the library is one of them. The Council has yet to make a decision, he said.
It finalizes the city budget in January.
Library staff were shocked to learn about the deficit and the layoffs. They said they were given no notice.
“We didn’t know about being $150,000 in the hole until we heard about it on WIRY,” said Librarian Colleen Pelletier. “No one could explain how. We were blindsided.”
The library’s projected budget shortfall is $167,340, minus $17,000 in fund balance that can be applied to next year’s budget.
Pelletier said the board won’t talk to them about the budget. Library staff has ideas to save money, and while it may not add up to a lot, it could save at least one position.
Other members of the community urged the public to take its case to the Common Council and demand more funding for the library.
After the public-comment period, the board voted to eliminate four positions.
“There is a limit to how far we can push City Council,” Brohinsky said. “They provide the majority of our operating budget.”
He pointed out that services are being cut in all city departments. Everybody is hurting, he said, and funding sources are drying up.
Brohinsky admitted he voted for something he did not want to do.
“But I don’t have a choice.”
That did little to appease people such as William Turcotte. He and his wife have been coming to the library since 1997. Their daughter looks forward to the summer reading program.
Turcotte said people rely on the library for books, the Internet and to seek employment.
“These cuts are awful.”
Librarian Kelly Sexton wonders how the library will continue to provide the level of service the public has come to expect.
As for Barton, working for the library was a dream job.
“We should have been given a heads-up,” she said. “I feel you did us a disservice.”