At its May 18 meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees approved a cost-reduction plan designed to trim the library’s budget by $2 million in the second half of fiscal year 2020. The library’s 2020 budget is $11,585,412 and will hit the half-way point on June 1.
“The library is anticipating severe funding cuts in the near future,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Ohio’s Public Library Fund has been reduced by roughly 35 percent, and we are expecting property tax collection to fall sharply. The majority of our funding, over 80 percent, comes from these two sources.”
The Library will cut $800,000 from the budget in four areas: materials, purchased services (such as staff training), land and building improvements, and supplies. The remaining $1.2 million will come from cutting salaries and benefits, including a 10-percent salary cut for all full-time management staff and a 14-percent salary cut for the director.
“The pandemic has forced us to severely limit the services we can offer while protecting the health of staff and customers,” said Levin. “That has, in turn, reduced the amount of work to be done by our staff.”
Out of 146 staff members, four have retired, three have voluntarily exited, and 48 have been furloughed. Those numbers total roughly 38 percent of the total staff. Of the remaining staff, 65 have had their hours cut by 50 percent.
Furloughed employees on the Heights Libraries’ health, vision and dental insurances will remain covered, and life insurance and the employee assistance program provided by the library continues for all employees. Those employees working at 50 percent are eligible for assistance through the library’s enrollment in the Shared Work Ohio program, a voluntary layoff avoidance program that allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity.
Heights Libraries’ human resources department will be helping affected employees apply for unemployment.
“It is our hope that furloughed employees will be called back to work in the coming months, as we are able to expand our services,” said Levin. “But our goal is to prepare for the worst. We just don’t know what the future will hold.”