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Furloughs ongoing for library employees

Director has asked county for ‘budget adjustment’

POSTED: January 13, 2013 11:30 p.m.

The Hall County Library System gets most of its funding from the county but — unlike the county — still is facing furloughs.

The library system has four remaining furloughs this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted in December to end furlough days for its employees for the rest of the county’s fiscal year.

Adrian Mixson, library director, said he has asked the county “if (it was) intending to do the same for library employees” and is awaiting a response.

“I would need a budget adjustment from the county,” he said.

The library system operates separately from the county. The library board decides spending based on amounts it gets from various sources, the bulk of which comes from the county government.

Mixson said the system typically gets 75 to 80 percent of its funding from the county, which had, before December, imposed monthly furlough days on its employees since the economic downturn.

“In our last budget adoption, allocations were made to each department and agency (in amounts) the commission thought was appropriate... and overall, county operations have been very sound and very solid,” County Administrator Randy Knighton said.

“Each department has operated within the parameters of its budget in providing a high level of service to all of Hall County citizens.”

In 2011, the Hall County government battled an $11.5 million budget deficit and ended up cutting park and library services.

It also reduced funding for the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center, which operates the Senior Life Center, Hall Area Transit, Meals on Wheels and other services.

The library system ended up laying off staff, closing its East Hall branch and scaling back hours at its remaining branches.

It now operates a Saturday rotation between its North Hall and Spout Springs branches and keeps only Gainesville open every Saturday.

Mixson said he would like to see funds shored up.

“Despite the reduced hours, we still reach more people living in Hall County than any other service provided by state and local government combined,” he said.

“We live within our budget, since fines, fees and gifts are the only revenues we generate,” Mixson said.. “We pay our bills on time. What little cushion we have actually is what we need to operate.”

Angela Glowcheski, branch manager at the Spout Springs library, said that ongoing furloughs are difficult, and paychecks have been further reduced by health insurance premium increases.

“But, luckily, we have patrons who support us,” she said. “It’s just frustrating because when the economy gets worse, the library needs to be there more. People cut their Internet access and TV back ... and we have all our stuff here that’s free.”

The Hall County Library Board plans to revisit operating hours at its branches at its Jan. 22 meeting; Mixson has said he plans to recommend leaving hours alone.

“Consensus from staff is (that) constantly changing hours was as confusing as floating weekends and flip-flopping days and nights,” he said.


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