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Library cuts out Sunday hours

In its latest budget-reduction effort, the Kitsap Regional Library on Tuesday announced it was eliminating Sunday hours at its four largest branches — including Port Orchard.

The Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Sylvan Way branches will also be affected by the move, which goes into effect on Feb. 6.

Step is Part of the Effort to Balance KRL’s Budget for 2011 and Beyond

The four branches are currently open Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m.

KRL’s five other branches are not open on Sundays.

“This is a very painful decision, but a move we have to make to sustain the library system in the future,” said KRL Director Jill Jean. “Sunday afternoons are a time that families use the libraries and also when students use the libraries for homework. But keeping those four buildings open for four hours an extra day is just not cost-effective.”

In addition to the Sunday closures, KRL will be examining a variety of other steps the system could take in 2011 and 2012 to reduce costs and reallocate resources to create the strongest possible library system that can be supported with current revenues.

A levy proposal that would have allowed an expansion of hours and services and the replacement of three undersized library branches was defeated by voters in November.

The Sunday closures will eliminate the need to replace staff members who have recently retired or resigned and who may leave KRL during 2011.

KRL expects to save about $100,000 through staff attrition and does not foresee the need to lay off employees during 2011, according to KRL Chief Financial Officer Bob Goldstein.

KRL will reassign staff members who have been working Sundays to other days of the week.

The elimination of Sunday hours was approved by the KRL Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Dec. 28.

Delaying the effective date until Feb. 6 gives the system opportunity to fully inform the public and allow branch staff to prepare for the schedule changes.

Balancing the 2011 budget was made much more difficult than expected because of a 44 percent increase in the cost of providing employee health care for 2011.

The 2010 health insurance bill for KRL is about $612,670; the projected bill for 2011 is $880,300.

Goldstein will initiate a review of the system’s healthcare plans in early 2011.

KRL plans to ask an insurance broker to evaluate the current plan’s benefits and recommend changes in health care coverage KRL provides for its employees to limit the annual cost increase for health insurance in future years.

The library system’s 2011 budget will be balanced and the board will approve the final version of the 2011 budget at its January meeting.

KRL will offer no cost-of-living increase to employees for the third consecutive year.

The 41 KRL employees who are at the top of their range in the salary schedule will not receive a raise in 2011.

Other KRL employees, upon receiving a satisfactory annual evaluation, will be eligible to move up one step on the salary schedule.

Spending on the library collection – the books and media purchased to be loaned to library users – will total $1,143,500, about 11 percent of the budget.

That number is the same as for 2010, but KRL will spend more in 2011 to add titles to its downloadable collection of e-books and audio books.

At the same time, it will purchase fewer printed books.

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