EAST LAKE – The East Lake Community Library will continue to remain open only 47 hours during the week through the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
The reduced hours were implemented during the summer as a stopgap measure in the face of a tight budget. Library Director Patricia Perez said she had hoped to reinstate the library’s prior 52-hour schedule after requesting more funds from Pinellas County for the new budget year.
The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, which oversees the East Lake library, agreed that more funds were needed and backed the library’s request to the Pinellas County commissioners. The board did offer an additional $42,990 above the standard allotment, as they did the last two years, but the library had hoped for more.
“They’re continuing the existing hours to help offset that proposed budget,” said PHCSA chair Rex Haslam.
Without a city government or a special taxing district to support it, the county is East Lake library’s primary revenue source. This year, it contributed a total of $242,990 to its operating fund, the same amount as last year.
Because of the support from the county, the library is granted funding from the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, this year about $161,000.
“We are going to maintain our current shorter hours with the new budget, and we’re going to raise fines to 20 cents per item per overdue day and hopefully bring in some more revenue,” Perez explained to the PHCSA board Sept. 19.
Perez also announced that one of the library’s longtime employees was relocating to another state. Instead of rehiring another employee, the hours of the now-empty position would instead help compensate the remaining employees.
Because she’s leaving, and since we have received no additional money, I’m going to take 20 hours and divide it up among current staff and give (three) staff members additional responsibility,” Perez said.
The three with more responsibilities – including marketing, cataloging and scheduling, respectively – will be given a 50 cent hourly raise. Two of the employees will now work full-time but aren’t accepting the health benefits to which they are entitled.
The unaffected library employees will receive a 3 percent pay increase across the board.
“There’s no increase in the budget,” Perez said of the changes.