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Libraries, museum in county ‘creative budget’ crosshairs

June 13, 2014

Local leaders will meet at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday to discuss service redesign for the Inyo County Library System and the Museum Services Department.
Among proposals on the table are options to combine the Library and Museum Services Director positions for a cost savings of $147,000, and a separate proposal to increase the Library budget by $167,000.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss five separate proposals on Tuesday. However, it is not scheduled to make a decision on any of them.
Currently, the Inyo County Free Library System operates six branches throughout the county. According to Librarian Nancy Masters, the library budget was cut by 27 percent for the 2013-14 year.
Through the county’s “creative” budget process, which is designed to cut costs without losing services during challenging fiscal times, Masters proposed two options, the Libraries Road Map, which would increase the libraries budget to add staff and improve services over the next several years, and the “Budget Plan,” which would maintain current services and staff, without any budget increase.
“There was a real cut this year,” Masters said, referring to the 2013-14 budget. “Both the Road Map and the Budget Plan take that into account.”
Masters added that the two proposals she submitted also take into account a recent Memorandum of Understanding with the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Office. That agreement requires extended hours of operations in the evening and weekend hours at the libraries in exchange for Superintendent of Schools Office-funded projects at libraries in Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop.
In response to Masters’ proposal, the County Administrator’s Office came up with four new proposals, known as Service Redesign Options 1-4.
Under SR Option 1, the county will maintain library funding at the 2013-14 levels ($609,775), with the beginnings of a reorganization of the Library and Museum departments. Under this plan, the temporary library employees will be replaced with one full-time “Library/Museum” specialist and one BPAR library/museum specialist. “By hiring these two positions with joint library and museum job descriptions , the department will take steps towards further integration between these two functions,” a staff report states. The plan does not call for any change to museum staffing, and will shave $6,634 from the Library budget.
SR Option 2, which will cut $87,000 from the Library and Museum budgets, and SR Option 3, which will cut $47,000 from the Library budget but add to the Museum budget, would modify job titles for two current employees, placing one museum employee in a new position serving both departments, and moving one technical services library employee from Independence to Bishop. “Either of these options would result in the museum hours being reduced from seven days per week to five days per week,” a staff report states.
The final option would combine the Museum and Library Directors positions for a total savings of $147,096 through the elimination of a management position.
Museum Director Jon Klusmire said Friday that, in the past, those two positions had been combined, so the move is not without precedence.
“It always sounds good to say merging departments is going to be more efficient,” Masters said. “But is it?” Masters said she would encourage anyone who is passionate about local free libraries to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

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