Stanislaus County supervisors approved a plan Tuesday evening to reduce the days that libraries are open and eliminate half of the part-time positions in the county library system.
Because of the slumping economy, the library budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year will shrink by almost $1.8 million.
As of June 30, the 13 county libraries will be closed one additional day per week. Three full-time library employees will lose their jobs and the part-time work force will be cut from 138 employees to 68.
Supervisors approved the measures on a 4-0 vote, with board member Dick Monteith absent.
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The Modesto library will be closed Sundays, while the branch libraries in other communities will be open four or five days a week.
Going to the library on weekends or evenings won't be an option for Empire residents. The branch will serve patrons Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays.
"I don't have any weekend days for my community," said Warren Brumley, president of the Empire Municipal Advisory Council. He told supervisors they should trim the hours across the board.
"I would rather have four hours a day for five days, than six hours a day for four days," he said.
County leaders have left the door open for cities to fund more hours at their respective branches. Supervisor Jim DeMartini said he had communicated with cities in his district about contributing, but no cities had committed money as of Tuesday.
"If they want more service, they are going to have to come up with the money," said board Chairman Tom Mayfield.
Funding for the county library system is driven by consumer buying. About 85 percent of the $10,653,000 library budget comes from the one-eighth-cent library sales tax collected in Stanislaus County. Those revenues are expected to fall by 12 percent next fiscal year and state funding is expected to decline.
First proposal was more drastic
At the same time, library overhead costs are expected to increase 16 percent, spurred by negotiated salary increases for employees, health insurance costs and utility costs, said Vanessa Czopek, county librarian.
The adopted plan is not as drastic as a proposal released early this month that would have cut 94 part-time jobs and pared branch libraries to three or four days a week.
The Modesto library will go to a six-day-a-week schedule. The Turlock, Ceres, Oakdale, Salida, Riverbank, Patterson, Waterford and Keyes branches will be open five days a week. The branches in Hughson, Empire, Denair and Newman will switch to four days a week.
The libraries will be open 487 hours per week, down from 579 hours. The budget for buying books and materials will be cut in half.
Czopek said she didn't anticipate more service reductions during the fiscal year beginning July 1. The county runs the risk of losing the favor of voters who have supported the sales tax at the ballot box, starting with a 1994 initiative to establish the tax. A measure in 2004 extended the one-eighth-cent tax until 2013.
A couple of callers who commented on a Bee story Saturday on the library cuts asked how the county was spending the sales tax revenue.
In another item, after years of hearing that illegal dumping was out of control, supervisors received a report that various efforts were having an impact on the problem. According to county environmental services staff, measures such as posting signs, mandatory garbage collection, a bulky item collection program and neighborhood cleanups were reducing the mess.
From April 1, 2007, to March 31, the Sheriff's Department received 10 to 15 calls per week requesting inmate crews to pick up rubbish, compared with 25 to 30 the previous year.
Supervisors Bill O'Brien, Jeff Grover and DeMartini said there was less illegal dumping in their respective districts.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.