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Facing budget woes, library cutting branch office hours, personnel pay

When the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library Board went behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon, they faced a $67,358 budget gap.

When they emerged, members voted to change library branch office hours and adjust personnel salaries to close the gap and balance the $403,432 budget.

Although Library Director Joe Zappacosta declined to comment on specifics of the personnel salary modifications following the closed session meeting, he said more information would be forthcoming after he meets with employees to discuss the pay changes. 

He did, however, offer more information on proposed changes to library office hours.

Restructuring the library operations and opening hours will offer patrons more opportunities to visit the library on weekends and free up more time for events, the director explained.

Under the schedule, the Halifax library will be open on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Halifax library will be closed every Friday.

The South Boston library will be opened Monday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The South Boston library will be closed every Wednesday.

 The changes go into effect Aug. 13 the board decided Tuesday afternoon.

Board members were in closed session for about an hour discussing personnel who may be affected by budget cuts needed to balance the remaining $954 deficit.

The $403,432 budget has a projected income of $402,478, according to figures provided during the library board meeting Tuesday.

The budget will decrease to roughly $396,000 after personnel salary changes are made, and hopefully this will balance it, he added.

The board initially discussed spending $301,588 on wages, salaries and benefits but instead decided to allot only $294,000 to this line item after the closed-door session. This represents a $19,690 drop from the current year’s salaries paid.

Zappacosta said he plans to have more details pertaining to the reduction, and an exact overall budget after speaking to staff members at the end of this week.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the board plans to spend a total of $67,844 on library collections including $39,000 on books, which is $2,000 more than was allotted for books during the current fiscal year. 

Children’s books will account for at least $12,200 of the book expenses, and young adult books will account for $3,000. Adult books will account for $24,700.

The board plans to spend $5,050 on newspapers and periodicals for the upcoming year along with an additional $2,000 for audios.

DVDs will account for $10,000 of the expenses in the upcoming year. Electronic databases will account for $7,040, while eBooks will account for $3,400 and interlibrary loans will account for $454.

 The board also plans to spend $2,500 on programming for the upcoming year, some $1,000 less than the current year. The entire $2,500 will be spent on the summer program, while no money was allotted for special events.

Library equipment will account for $8,500 of the expenses for the upcoming year with general equipment accounting for $3,000.

Computer hardware accounts for $5,000 and computer software accounts for $500. 

Expenses for contracted services for the upcoming year are expected to drop to $6,000, a $14,000 reduction from the current year. 

Library office, janitorial and postage supplies will account for $8,900 in the upcoming year, while travel expenses dwindle to $500, a $2,000 decrease from the current year. 

Public Relations expenses will account for $300 of the expenses, while telephone and Internet account for $4,500. 

Insurance costs went up to $1,500, a $500 increase over last year, and vehicle maintenance accounts for $500 of the expenses.

Professional development costs amount to $800.

Zappacosta said the board expects to receive $175,000 from Halifax County and  $62,000 from the Town of South Boston. 

The board also anticipates a $4,000 budget boost from monetary gifts bringing the total amount the board anticipates receiving in local income to $241,000.

 The library is expected to bring in an income of $30,000 in the upcoming year with fines accounting for $6,500, $900 in fees and replacement library cards bringing in another $300.  

Fax machine usage is expected to bring in $9,500, while copies will account for $8,500, and merchandise will bring in $900.

 The board anticipates receiving $121,478 from the state and $3,000 from the federal government.

 The board also expects to receive $10,000 in grants from the Chastain home.