Plattsburgh Common Council member Tim Carpenter helped create the plan that put the wheels in motion to save positions and the Plattsburgh Public Library.
It was a concerted effort and all the pieces had to fit to save the Plattsburgh Public Library, said Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzack.
On the evening of Dec. 28, the Plattsburgh Common Council voted unanimously to provide the Plattsburgh Public Library with $60,000 in additional funding. The move was step three in a process that saved four positions and will reportedly put the library on the road to financial stability.
“I want to personally thank Councilor (Tim) Carpenter in his work helping the library board,” said Ronald Lockwood, chair of the Plattsburgh Public library Board of Directors.
Carpenter was instrumental in devising a plan that prevented the once seemingly certain termination of four employees, a move which may have put the future of the library in jeopardy.
The Plattsburgh Public Library faced a $150,000 deficit. In response, the library’s board of directors presented a budget that eliminated four positions, a move that could have jeopardized state aid and risked the library’s state accreditation had it been forced to reduce its hours.
Many people have openly questioned how the library ended up with a deficit.
Kasprzack criticized the library, pointing to weak management and said the deficit was partly the result of grievances and some employees abusing the system.
Library employees countered that there were two sides to every story.
The union offered an alternative budget to try and save the four positions and close the budget gap, but the Board of Directors ultimately went with a plan presented by Carpenter.
His four-year plan, among other things, would have the union work with the board to resolve overtime and reduce the book budget $5,000 to $10,000.
Employees would see their hours reduced from 37 to 35 hours.
Employees would have to sign a four-year contract with 0-percent raises and a 15-percent contribution toward health insurance from all employees.
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.
The union would have to agree to drop all current grievances for a savings of $11,000.
Carpenter said at the time that if the agreement could be approved by Dec. 28 with the union’s blessing he would request additional funding of $60,000 from the City of Plattsburgh.
Library employees unanimously approved the plan on the evening of Dec. 26. The board ratified it shortly after.
During the Common Council meeting, Kasprzak presented agenda items for the following week’s meeting, one of which was to provide the Plattsburgh Public library with $60,000 in additional funding.
Carpenter made a motion, seconded by Councilor James Calnon, to move that item under new business for Wednesday night’s meeting. The Common Council voted unanimously to do so.
“I am pleased this is coming forth tonight,” Calnon said. “The three groups should be proud they can work together. I am proud to join them in support of their agreement.”
He pointed out that part of the reason behind the increase was to treat the library like every other department when it came to retirements.
The resolution read as follows: “To increase the General Fund transfer to the library by $60,000 to reflect the rate increases for retirement that occurred in 2011 and 2012 and to allow for additional funding for the Library Board’s cost reduction agreement with its AFSCME bargaining unit.”
The Common Council unanimously passed the resolution.
“This is the very last step of a plan three weeks in creating and putting together,” Carpenter said. “It took 57 people working together to make this whole thing work.”
“It was a concerted effort and all the pieces had to fit,” Kasprzack said. “It was an effort that had to come through everybody.”