Nevada County library decision delayed to find economic solutions
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Nevada County has put off a decision on the library system to give a newly-formed committee a chance to look for more solutions to the dwindling budget.
The committee will be composed of representatives from across Nevada County, including Truckee Town Council member Richard Anderson, selected by the town council Thursday, Nov. 19.
So far a request earlier this year for proposals from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to bring in private contractors to staff the libraries has received one bid from Library Systems and Services of Germantown, Md.
and#8220;We believe the best solution was the current proposal from the county librarian and#8212; she proposed cost cutting rather than a tax increase or outsourcing,and#8221; said Ruth Jackson Hall, of the Friends of the Truckee Library.
Currently the Nevada County Library system gets funds from a 1/8 cent sales tax, which some in western Nevada County have suggested increasing to a 1/4 cent sales tax in the face of a possible $2 million deficit by 2013.
The Friends of the Truckee Library proposal of cutting costs would include reducing services and closing some of the satellite libraries in western county, preserving the core libraries in Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee, Hall said.
and#8220;While on one hand there is the desire to keep them all the way they are, you necessarily lose things with outsourcing and#8212; there is a lot of risk in the unknown,and#8221; Hall said. and#8220;We donand#8217;t want to be diverted by a temporary fiscal situation, because things could improve.and#8221;
The bidding contractor, Library Systems and Services, promises more hours while saving money. Its plan also calls for rehiring all employees who want to return at their current salaries, according to CEO Frank Pezzanite, but they would come back to fewer benefits.
LSS plans would save 7 percent from the libraryand#8217;s adopted $2.5 million budget. Much of the approximately $170,000 in savings comes from an employee benefits package that is not as lucrative as that offered by the county, which abides by union contracts.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors originally planned to come back to the issue in December to consider any bids from contractors, but 5th District Supervisor Ted Owens said it will be put off to give the ad-hoc committee more time.
and#8220;It looks like weand#8217;ll be hearing it in early January, burning another $34,000 in delay,and#8221; Owens said. and#8220;It will be very challenging to see if we contract for services. Will it result in the ability to keep the libraries open and the taxpayers to save money? It will be a tough decision to make, because it gets down to why (the libraries) exist. Is it for the general public, or as an employment model?and#8221;
Both Anderson and Council Member Barbara Green expressed interest in being part of the ad-hoc committee at the Nov. 19 council meeting, and the council voted 5-0 to appoint Anderson, with Green as the alternate if Anderson is unable to attend.
The Sierra Sunand#8217;s sister paper in Grass Valley, The Union, reported that about 100 protesters picketed the Nevada County Rood Center Tuesday to dissuade the Board of Supervisors from outsourcing.
and#8220;Why send our tax money to another place?and#8221; asked retired librarian Annabel Straus, referring to the sole proposal from a Maryland firm. and#8220;Public libraries should be exactly that: Public, not private.and#8221;
and#8220;This is the foundation of democracy,and#8221; protester Mark Sherwood said. and#8220;Itand#8217;s not for sale or rent.and#8221;
and#8220;I believe local control of our library is very important,and#8221; said Susan Jakubik. and#8220;I plan to volunteer at the library when I retire, but I thinkvolunteerism would go down if itand#8217;s privately run.and#8221;
A petition is available on the Friends of the Truckee Library website, http://www.truckeefol.org.
Proposals received by Nevada County can be found at docs.co.nevada.ca.us/dsweb/View/Collecton-56472.
and#8212; Dave Moller of The Union contributed to this report