With a decade of mandated budget-cutting under his belt, Blue Earth County Library Director Tim Hayes knows how to throw around apt metaphors for yet more trimming to come.
“In the past 10 years we’ve gotten all of the low-hanging fruit and even some of the high-hanging fruit,” he told the Blue Earth County Board on Tuesday.
“We’ve pretty much thrown everything on the table to see where we could reduce costs ... there are no sacred cows.”
Hayes spoke to commissioners at a board work session about what areas of reductions are being considered by the Library Board.
Hayes said he doesn’t know specifically how much cutting must be done, but he knows it’s coming. Virtually all libraries have been in the same straits in recent years due to ongoing state-aid cuts to their local-government funding entities. Mankato officials also have talked about reducing the city’s share of supporting the library.
Hayes presented a shopping list of potential cost-cutting suggestions for the County Board to consider as it ponders its share of funding allotments to the library. Those suggestions include:
nNot refilling a full-time library specialist position.
nReducing hours the facility would be open by two hours a week.
nReducing discretionary funding by 10 percent across the board.
nIncreasing fees for lost and damaged materials.
nIncreasing rental fees for the auditorium and conference room.
Hayes said the library has cut so much in the past that any cuts forthcoming may directly impact the public in the number of services provided.
He said the library serves 800 to 1,000 patrons daily, a figure that’s held steady in recent years.
Nearly 80 percent of the library’s budget goes for employee salaries and benefits, but cutting staff isn’t the answer because that’s already been done over the years, Hayes said.
He said the Library Board has even considered going to a donation system, such as an adopt-a-fish program for kids, to maintain the library’s fish tank.
Hayes repeated a statement he’s made often before: “The challenge we face is to maintain quality library service within these financial constraints.”