Nevada County libraries: Ad-hoc committee weighs in against outsourcing
NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. andamp;#8212; A committee created to consider the countyandamp;#8217;s library woes has added its voice to a growing list that is opposed to privatizing operations.The county has sought solutions for the library systemandamp;#8217;s budget andamp;#8212; hurt by decreasing sales tax revenue andamp;#8212; including the solicitation of proposals from private firms that would oversee operations. Friends of the Library groups at both ends of the county have voiced their opposition to this option, and the Citizens Oversight Committee also voted against it earlier this month.andamp;#8220;I have a huge concern when dealing with a contractor,andamp;#8221; said Ruth Hall, a member of both the citizens oversight committee and the Friends of the Truckee Library. andamp;#8220;Itandamp;#8217;s a huge risk, and they made generalized statements without specifics.andamp;#8221;Most recently, an ad-hoc committee formed to consider the issue has put its support behind a county-run option, said Richard Anderson, Truckeeandamp;#8217;s vice mayor and member of the committee.andamp;#8220;The risks involved with private management of county libraries outweigh the potential benefits,andamp;#8221; Anderson said. andamp;#8220;The Friends of the Truckee Library deserve high praise for developing a staffing plan that meets all of the countyandamp;#8217;s criteria, keeps all libraries open, and also ensures the highest level of service delivery of all the options presented to our committee.andamp;#8221;That option would allow staff hours to be curtailed, without layoffs, meaning the libraries would dip into reserves, but wouldnandamp;#8217;t go into the red, Anderson said.Alternatively, if budget projections donandamp;#8217;t pan out and the reduced employee hours arenandamp;#8217;t enough, the group supports an option that would lay off three librarians, but keep the libraries in public control.Library Systems andamp; Services of Maryland was the only private firm to provide a bid for services to the county.The LSSI proposal called for all the libraries to remain open and foresaw almost a $260,000 deficit for this fiscal year, $30,000 in red ink in 2010-11 and a profit beginning in 2011-2012. An e-mailed addendum also called for rehiring all 21 of the library systemandamp;#8217;s current employees.andamp;#8220;The LSSI team came off as competent and professional, but their proposal didnandamp;#8217;t have much substance. But even if it did have adequate substance, in my opinion the risks of switching management of an already well-run library system to a private company seem too great,andamp;#8221; Anderson said.The ad-hoc committee didnandamp;#8217;t support another option that would have closed two libraries in western Nevada County.andamp;#8220;I saw that as a non-starter,andamp;#8221; Anderson said.County Chief Executive Officer Rick Haffey recommended looking at a private firm to outsource library management in October when it became clear the system was in financial trouble. Haffey projected the system would be $400,000 in the red by this coming June and have a $2 million deficit by 2013 unless service delivery is changed or sales tax revenues bounce back.Haffey will meet with county staff and review the recommendations of the two committees before making his own report, to be presented to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors at one of the two February meetings, said Steve Monaghan, chief information officer for the county.andamp;#8212; Sun News Service Reporter Dave Moller contributed to this report
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