The Plattsburgh Public Library, faced with a $150,000 shortfall, cut four positions despite public outcry.
PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Public library supporters say they are pushing forward to save jobs and the library itself.
Their only chance to save positions appears to be a funding increase from the City of Plattsburgh. But the city’s budget, under the new tax cap, didn’t come without its own sacrifices.
The Plattsburgh Common Council had previously turned down a request from the libraries Board of Directors for more money. But the budget isn’t scheduled to be finalized until mid January.
“There has been no decision,” said Common Council member James Calnon.
A large crowd of library supporters turned out for Thursday’s Common Council meeting, some of them speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“This is a mess,” said Kate Gardner, of Plattsburgh.
Indeed, there has been little explanation as to how the library ended up with a $167,340 deficit. Fund balance cuts that deficit to about $150,000, with the rest taken care of by four job cuts voted in by the Board of Directors at an emotional meeting earlier in the week.
Calnon said there needs to be more communication between the board and Common Council, and the city must be able to trust how funds are used. For example, he said three years ago the library asked for funds to pursue three items. The city gave the go ahead for items one and two and the library went with one and three instead.
“We are very concerned about the use of funds,” Calnon said.
The library receives state and federal funds, but the majority of its budget is covered by the City of Plattsburgh, which mandates library services. Plattsburgh gives the library $811,000 toward its operating budget.
Suzanne Barton, a clerk whose position was cut, questioned how the Board of Directors is chosen and if each individual’s background is considered.
The library is governed by an independent, 13-member board appointed by the mayor and Common Council.
Stuart Voss, also a Plattsburgh resident and former member of the Common Council understands where the city is coming from and also knows the library is used by many. It is especially important to families who cannot afford their own library or recreation activities for their children, he said.
He disagreed with the Board of Directors’ decision to cut staff and implored the city to help.
“I know how this works,” Voss said. “It can be done.”
Chad Chase, a town of Plattsburgh resident, also asked the city to help.
“The Council is primarily in charge of funding and the financial resources.”
Calnon said the budget is not final until it is voted on.
“I think the council is interested in being fair.”
For William Turcotte and his family, fair is having a thriving library with adequate staff. He has been bringing his daughter to the library since she was an infant.
“Plattsburgh doesn’t have a lot that is for children, especially things that are free.”