OTTAWA — Facing a projected $210,000 deficit in this year’s budget, Putnam County Library board members approved laying off nine employees and reducing hours at most of the branch libraries.
Library Director Kelly Ward said the new state budget means the local library will be facing an additional 11 percent cut on top of the 15.25 percent cut it had at the beginning of the year.
“The Ohio Library Council is telling us to expect a 27 percent to 33 percent total cut from the prior year,” Ward said. “This is what we are basing our figures on.”
“None of us wants to do layoffs,” said board member Beth Myers, following a lengthy executive session where board members discussed the finance committee recommendations to reduce staff, reduce branch hours and reduce the board’s share of medical insurance for staff members.
All the recommendations were approved by the board, including increasing the staff share of insurance costs by 5 percent. This includes the administrator and fiscal officer who will now pay 25 percent of their insurance beginning Sept. 1. Earlier this year the board had approved paying 100 percent of the administrator and fiscal officer’s medical insurance.
Ward was in tears as she announced the names of those who would be layed off. The layoffs include five assistant branch librarians and four professional employees, including the assistant clerk treasurer, librarian, reference librarian and cataloguer.
Board Vice President Keith Kahle said the layoffs were based on seniority.
Six of the seven branch libraries will have their hours reduced. It was decided to keep hours the same at the main Ottawa Library and the Fort Jennings Library, which houses the local history collection.
The board also no longer has a paid lunch policy. The only exception for this was branch librarians working alone who do not leave for lunch. The maintenance worker hours were reduced from 30 hours weekly to 24 hours weekly beginning Sept. 2.
Fiscal Officer Nancy Stauffer said the changes will still leave a projected $41,000 deficit.
The board also approved discussing the feasibility of a local levy with the Putnam County commissioners, who are the taxing authorities for the board.