Barry-Lawrence Library Board opts to close Purdy branch

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

State minimum wage increase prompts closures, cuts

Barry-Lawrence Regional Library system board members had to make a few difficult decisions at the November meeting, opting to close the Purdy branch by March 1, 2019.

At the crux of the matter is the state minimum wage increase, approved by voters in November, which dramatically impacts the system's already strained budget. The minimum wage increasing to $8.60 on Jan. 1, 2019, and the annual 85-cent mandated increase until minimum wage caps at $12 per hour in 2023, will total a 50 percent increase over the $8 per hour base pay already offered to staffers. In addition to an increase in the base pay, the system's pay scale will also climb to compensate employees currently earning more than the base wage.

“The new minimum wage law will wreak havoc with our already tight budget,” said Gina Milburn, director. “If we decide to keep pace with the new minimum wage increases, we will need to make significant cuts.”

Milburn said the two lower performing branches, Purdy and Miller, could be closed one at a time over the next three years, evaluating budget needs after each closing.

“Cutting staff at this time is not an option, since we are already operating at a bare bones levels,” Milburn said.

Other cost-cutting options include reallocating the periodicals budget and relying on the system's online magazine coverage, and paring down newspaper subscriptions; changing the way mileage is reimbursed; cutting staff through attrition by not replacing positions as they are vacated.

Milburn prepared a 90-day written notice to the City of Purdy, announcing the closure of the branch at the November meeting of the council. Action on canceling periodicals, newspaper subscriptions and mileage reimbursements has been tabled for the time being. Discussion about closing other branches in the future will be discussed at the annual budget meeting in June 2019.

Another change for the library system is the auto insurance carrier. Milburn indicated she had significant difficulty in getting the system's vehicles insured again through State Farm, which has provided services for more than 30 years. Milburn sought out other coverage. Current rates from State Farm totaled $2,242.62 per year, as compared to $1,892.42 through Owners Insurance Company, an A+ rated company, resulting in a savings of $350.20 per year. The policy was offered through Trogdon-Marshall Agency, the same agency that covers building insurance for the system.

Board members also approved health, dental and vision insurance renewals for 19 full-time employees. The deductible would increase from $1,000/$3,000 to $1,500/$3000, but out of pocket costs would remain the same at $4,000/$8,000. With this plan, the prescription costs would be lower than the current plan with only an 8.01 percent increase in premiums. There are no new changes in the dental and vision plans.

Milburn reported making a $3,000 purchase of surplus furniture, which included solid oak chairs, a desk, solid oak spin racks, upholstered chairs, kick stools, file cabinet and a diner booth set, at a greatly reduced cost.

Milburn also spoke to State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, concerning efforts to have the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library included in a statute that would allow the board seek a sales tax for funding. Fitzpatrick said his support is contingent on having the support of State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville and State Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, as well.

Accountant Kurt Krueger, CPA Group, gave a brief overview of the 2017-2018 audit. Based on the audit the library district is in stable financial condition and has no outstanding debt. One item that needed to be addressed during the audit process was the two outstanding pledges to the Monett Building Fund from EFCO and Jack Henry and Associates. Since it has been more than 10 years since the pledges were made, Mr. Krueger sent letters to both EFCO and Jack Henry to ask if they would honor their respective $150,000 pledges. Jack Henry responded with an emphatic no and EFCO never responded. Based on those actions, the pledges jave been removed from the library’s balance sheet.

Milburn reported that system circulation was slightly up from last year with 31,969 checkouts for the month of October. Mt. Vernon had the highest circulation numbers with 6,820, followed by Monett with 6,098 and Cassville with 6,005. Purdy (515) remains one of the least utilized facilities. E-material checkout totaled 2,635 compared to October 2017 with 2,416. Ancestry was used 241 times and Hoopla 1,375 times. Computer use totaled 3,007 uses and wifi use was at 896, both up slightly from last month. October saw the system hosting 273 programs with 8,894 participants, nearly doubling numbers from the previous month.

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