Library system forced deal with budget cuts

Nearly a year after voters defeated a levy lift, the Kitsap County Library system has cut its costs and cleaned up its finances.

“We’re getting our spending in line with our income,” said KRL Director Jill Jean. “Before, we always had the ability to get the money we needed in order to expand or do whatever we wanted to do. Now, the economy is worsening, and we’re hearing that we need to live within our means like everybody else.”

The most noticeable cost-cutting measures were implemented in January, with a cutback in hours and a fine increase. Jean said the measures had already saved money and predicted that branch hours would be cut again.

This corresponds with an increase in the self-service aspect of the library, wherein patrons can check out their own books using automatic machines.

“We’re not filling a number of vacant positions,” Jean said, “so we’re saving a lot of money on staffing.”

One of the biggest savings was not replacing Administrative Services Director Fernando Conill, who retired.

While Conill’s human resources responsibilities were distributed among existing staff, his budgeting work was assumed by Bob Goldstein, a Seattle resident who was hired as the part-time chief financial director.

Jean, who worked with Goldstein in the Seattle Public Library system, credited his ability to help the system operate within the budget.

“He has given us hope,” she said. “If we get our spending in line it will postpone our needing to go to the voters for more money.

Since losing last May’s vote the KRL board has repeatedly discussed the if and when of another levy attempt.

For a time, it appeared it would go for another vote in 2007, but that didn’t happen.

Jean said another levy attempt would occur, adding that it would probably be the last time KRL would be able to float such a proposal. For that reason, she said she would not make this attempt until all possible spending has been cut and “we have done everything we can to save money.?

“I hate cutting hours and raising fees,” she said. “But we must do these things in order to stay within our means.”?


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