Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

County Commission to close Pasco libraries on Mondays

DADE CITY — Commissioners said they didn't want to do it, but they had no choice.

To help make up for a projected $2 million budget shortfall this year, they reluctantly voted to close Pasco County libraries on Mondays.

"It's not what any of us want to do," said Commissioner Michael Cox. "But it's the fiscally conservative thing we must do."

The move comes as libraries face a triple whammy: the state's property tax rollback, Amendment 1 and a dismal economy.

"It's so depressing," library system director Linda Allen said after the meeting.

In a Feb. 17 memo, Allen said the library system had to freeze 17 vacant positions. Of those, nine were professional librarians.

"In order for libraries to continue to operate with this level of staff reduction, we are recommending that all libraries' public service locations be moved to a 40-hour-per-week public schedule, which would include being closed on Mondays."

Each branch will be open until 8 p.m. once a week. All branches would open at 10 a.m. Each branch will remain open on Saturdays. Libraries are closed on Sundays.

Allen said Monday was picked after considering every option, including rotating the day the branches would be closed.

But no one they asked liked that idea, she said.

Being closed an extra day is expected to save the county $472,320 this fiscal year, though rising utility rates might wipe out some of that savings.

Allen said she doesn't expect next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, to be much better as the county has to plug a $30 million budget hole.

The library has also done other things to save money. Last April, it cut back operating times by one hour each day. It also cut in half the number of days patrons could keep materials from 28 to 14 in hopes to keeping more items in circulation.

Allen said Tuesday the library system has reduced by 11 percent its programming, for which has won national awards.

"Those out-of-the-box programs where we have speakers may be okay, but things that are intensive for staff time are probably not going to happen," she said.

Allen said the library has made good use of volunteers, but they are limited in what jobs they can do because of legal constraints and because of the advanced training necessary.

"Even our library assistants have four-year degrees," she said.

An economic downturn is a tough time to reduce library services because it's when people need them the most, said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who called the system "the shining star" of the county.

County figures show circulation of materials is up 27 percent from last year, while Internet sign-ups are up 11 percent and the number of card-carrying patrons is up 6 percent, to 227,053.

"That's the irony of what we're facing," Hildebrand said.

Allen said she hopes the moves will be temporary.

"We want to come back — with an expanded schedule," she said.

Until then, west Pasco bibliophiles can find some refuge from the Monday closings at the New Port Richey Library. The library, which is run by the city, has a reciprocal agreement with the county system.

Any county resident may use that library, at 5939 Main St. in New Port Richey, said Ann Scott, outreach director. It's open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"All they need to do is show their library card and an ID and we'll give them a card," she said. "We'd love to have them come to our library."

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

County Commission to close Pasco libraries on Mondays 03/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]