Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Closes Three Branches, Prepares for More
If budget cuts go through, there could be 200 layoffs
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 05/21/2010
- Now 24 locations, it could be 20, or eight
- Termination costs could hit $4 million
- Waiting to see if county, municipalities respond
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, faced with a recommended $17.7 million county contribution for FY 011—a nearly 50% drop— has agreed to close three branches next month as a preliminary step, and may close a dozen more and lose 200 employees if funds are not restored as the budget is finalized.
The permanent closure of three locations will save $2 million, and the library also will save $2.3 million by consolidating two departments, Maintenance and Security, with the County.
Should the $17.7 million recommendation go through, the system would have eight large locations, down from the current 24. But if the library gets $8 million more—$5 million from the county and $3 million from the municipalities served—it could maintain the 20 locations it will have next month. (Beyond the three permanent closures, another branch will be temporarily closed for renovation and expansion.)
The smaller system would mean the layoff of some 200 employees, on top of the 120 let go in April. The Charlotte Observer reported that it could cost nearly $4 million to terminate those employees.
"We're going to go down fighting to preserve as much of the system as we can," director Charles Brown said, according to the Observer, which reported that county commissioners were not yet willing to commit to restoring $5 million.
The budget should be passed on June 15. This year the library cut hours and staff but not locations, in response to a requirement to cut $2 million from its budget within the last three months of the fiscal year.
The most "recommended" comment on the newspaper’s web site? A posting with a list of department heads and division heads earning over $80,000 a year, up to Brown’s $170,974.