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Naperville library cutting back $1.1 million
By Melissa Jenco | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/16/2009 12:03 AM

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The Naperville Public Library is facing $1.1 million in budget cuts next year, putting library hours and programs on the chopping block.

"We're trying to be careful about any cuts in services to make them the least painful for the public as possible," said Marcia Lebeau, assistant director for administrative services.

The city has asked the library and Naper Settlement to come up with the cash to help it fill a $6 million shortfall in its general fund next year that is part of a larger $14.1 million budget hole.

Naper Settlement will likely have to come up with $200,000 and the city will find the remaining $4.7 million.

The library board voted this week to ask city councilmen to reduce its $1.1 million request by $150,000 to help cover pensions and health insurance premiums. Library officials argue they already include these costs in their operating expenses while the city has a separate fund for them.

If the city approves that move, the library's property tax levy next year would be about $12.9 million, down from $13.8 million this year. Roughly 90 percent of the library's budget is from property taxes.

The library has been setting aside some of its fund balances during the past few years to cover the shortfalls it has been anticipating. It is already using $500,000 of its fund balances for next year's budget.

Board members decided this week to use an additional $500,000 of those funds to help fill the city's request.

"We will use our fund balances to fill some of the holes but the holes are getting so deep it won't be enough," Lebeau said. "Even holding things flat won't do it ... We will be hard-pressed to keep services totally the same."

Library staff is analyzing hours of library usage as it discusses where to make the cuts.

The library is looking at opening an hour later on Sundays and eliminating the premium pay for its employees on those days. Those moves would save an estimated $200,000.

The library also is exploring voluntary separations and could implement furlough days for its employees. Library facilities would be closed on these furlough days.

Hours per week for full-time staff may also be reduced. That in turn could also mean fewer library hours. If those are morning hours, some children's programming could be cut. If those are afternoon hours, it could be teen programming that gets the ax.

The majority of the library's roughly 290 employees already work part-time. Lebeau said the library follows a continuous improvement model so it already runs a tight ship.

"We're looking at this all the time," she said. "Is there a better, faster way of doing something. So there really hasn't been a lot of room."

The library already eliminated paid public programming and reduced its training and materials costs. Further cuts to the materials budget are likely.

The city council will discuss the property tax levy in a workshop at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at the municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.