Library Leaders Plan For Looming Budget Cuts

Updated:

None - Sixteen local libraries could shut down July 1 because of a steep reduction in county funding for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library leaders are hoping they will only have to close four, though, and have put together a two-part proposal to present to county commissioners next month.

VIDEO: Libraries Brace For Cuts

The two-part plan, which combined two previous scenarios presented by the board, shows what a $17 million reduction would look like, then proposes a more sustainable model, calling for an additional $8 million in funding.

However even the director believes it will be a tough sell. Library director Charles Brown shared the plan at a community meeting on Thursday.

It would mean asking the county, city of Charlotte and smaller towns for a total of $8 million. It would mean more libraries, and fewer job losses.

"We hope that we can sell the plan and that there may be funds found to achieve it," Brown said. Brown said he'll meet with city and county leaders again next week to discuss the plan.

Library plans for $17 million dollar reduction

• Additional lay-offs of 170 people

• All 16 community libraries would close leaving Main Library, ImaginOn and the 6 regional branches (Freedom, Independence, Morrison, North County, South County and University City) open

• Continued reduction in hours and services

• Make significant cuts to operational services

Library Sustainability Plan ($17 million dollar reduction plus "add-backs" for a more sustainable model)

• Starts with all of the elements from the $17 million reduction plan

• Seeks $8 million in additional funding

• $5 million from county

• $3 million from municipalities (City of Charlotte and towns)

• Additional staff lay-offs of approximately 70 people

• Reopen 12 locations in addition to 8 regional branches (Cornelius, Davidson, Hickory Grove, Matthews, Mint Hill, Mountain Island, Myers Park, Plaza Midwood, Scaleybark, Steele Creek, Sugar Creek and West Boulevard)

• Three libraries would remain closed

• Belmont Center Library. An endeavor would be made to achieve an alternative operating arrangement (like a homework center) in the City of Charlotte facility

• Carmel would close upon the expiration of the lease on June 30

• Checkit Outlet, another leased facility, would close June 30

• Beatties Ford Road would close temporarily to expedite the renovation/expansion which is expected to be complete in 2011. When the construction is complete, the Freedom Regional Library space would be surrendered to CMS, the expanded Beatties Ford Road Library would reopen and become the new Regional library serving the west side

• Consolidate certain services with the county such as maintenance and security

• Cut operational expenses even further

Library leaders have held several meetings to share the proposal with community members.

Upcoming meeting:

• May 3 at 6:30 p.m. at CPCC Cato Campus: 8120 Grier Road, Charlotte

"We're just hoping that the community will come out and weigh in on our proposals that we are presenting," Angela Haigler, a spokesperson for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, said.

County commissioners have said library leaders may need to find a way to operate on a budget reduced by half.

The latest proposal says that would only be enough money to keep the main library, ImaginOn, and six regional branches open. The reduction would also mean laying off 170 more employees and further limiting library hours.

Library branches across the area recently reduced operating hours after a cut in funding for this fiscal year. Click here to see the new schedule.

"Time is of the essence when it comes to finalizing our plans," Haigler said.

Library leaders are pushing for the second part of the proposal, which asks for an additional $8 million in funding. That plan would only require closing four library branches and laying off 70 employees.

"None of these plans are set in stone," Haigler said. "They are still recommendations that still need approval from our board and from the community at large."

Members of Friends of the Library say either way, the library will see a devastating loss. As of now, member Dick Pahle said, they don't know exactly what will happen come July 1.

"But what we do know is that fundraising will be, as it always has been, an important part of the solution," Pahle said.

To date, Friends of the Library has raised upwards of $370,000. That money has gone toward paying salaries and purchasing books.

If you'd like to make a donation to the library, click here.

Previous Stories: April 15, 2010: Library Board Looks At Bleak Scenarios April 7, 2010: Mecklenburg County Commissioners: Library's Financial Troubles Not Our Fault March 29, 2010: 12 Libraries Slated To Close Will Remain Open March 22, 2010: Donations Fall Far Short Of Libraries' Needs March 22, 2010: Donations Pour In To Save Charlotte Libraries March 19, 2010: Library Programs In Limbo After Closure Announcement