Naperville library may offer voluntary buyouts

Published: 1/22/2010 12:01 AM

Naperville Public Library may offer employees voluntary buyout packages to help cut costs.

The library doesn't plan to lay off employees or even reduce the size of its staff. The proposed program would be optional and the library would replace those who choose to leave with new employees at lower salaries, said Marcia Lebeau, assistant director for administrative services.

The library employs 288 people, the majority of whom are part-time.

Staff members presented the proposed buyout program to the library board Wednesday and recommended offering departing employees eight weeks of base salary and 90-day access to the Employee Assistance Program that provides help with both personal and professional issues.

With an eight-week package, the library estimates it could save $2,000 to $10,000 per employee in the first 12 months and $5,000 to $23,000 per employee in each subsequent year.

But Lebeau said it's hard to predict how many employees would take the separation incentives or which pay level they would come from.

Officials thought the program might appeal to people who aren't happy with their library jobs or are considering trying something new.

"It's not a perfect approach," Lebeau said. "There is always risk of losing some of your best people."

Library board members still are discussing the proposal. They have asked staff to research a tiered approach in which seniority would be a factor in determining severance packages.

In the fiscal year coming to a close, the library reduced its staff by the equivalent of 4.5 employees by reducing two 40-hour positions to 30 hours each and not filling vacancies.

The library has created a balanced budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year that begins May 1 despite chipping in $1 million to help fill the city's budget hole.

In putting together the new budget, library officials used fund balances from prior years, withheld merit salary increases, eliminated premium pay for Sundays, cut the materials budget and reduced Sunday hours by one hour starting May 1.

The voluntary separation program, if library trustees approve it, would help the library as it plans for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, officials said.

The library board will continue the discussion Feb. 17.