Barry Jacobs, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, has responded to a letter from Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton about recent cuts to the Carrboro Branch Library. Read his letter below and the mayor's letter below that.
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Thank you for your letter, and for sharing your concerns.
As you noted, and as was doubtless true for your board, the commissioners did our best to suppress the rate of increase in the property tax. We cut $5 million from the manager's proposed budget, most by delaying or deferring costs associated with county facilities and operations.
Our efforts included significant reductions in the use of temporary labor, which had become a mechanism by which department heads indirectly filled positions that were not formally funded by the Board of County Commissioners. We did convert individuals who were perpetual temporary employees filling already-identified positions to permanent employees, thereby extending benefits and ending an unfair situation.
Reductions in temporary funding, which were made in the final days of the budget process, were across-the-board but had more impact on some departments than others -- public transportation, libraries, and recreation come to mind. The commissisoners made adjustments to accommodate rising service demands facing OPT. We did not hear concerns raised by staff about impacts on library services.
My understanding is that all three branch libraries -- McDougle, the Cybrary, and Cedar Grove -- experienced nearly identical reductions in temporary staff, and therefore in the ability to remain open.
I will try to get an answer as to why the cuts were not more evenly distributed to include the central library. I understand that the county manager also is looking into the possibility of using some of the remaining temporary monies to augment library services. Library patronage is highest in summer and, as you doubtless recognize, access to libraries is particularly valued during bad economic times, given the entertainment, educational, community, and air-conditioning resources they provide.
Thank you for your leadership in trying to resolve differences amicably, and to address the fiscal, historical, and jurisdictional difficulties and prejudices that continue to complicate the provision of excellent library services in Carrboro and throughout the county.
MAYOR CHILTON'S LETTER
Dear Mr. Chairman;
First let me say thank you for exercising the discipline necessary to limit this year's County tax increase. As difficult as the budget year has been for our local governments, it has been even harder for many local families.
That said, I am concerned about the cuts to library service in Carrboro. It seems that the cuts to the Carrboro Branch hours (which were already quite limited) are a good deal more drastic than the cuts to the main library. This seems unfair given that many more Orange County residents live near the Carrboro branch than the main library and given that public transit access to the Carrboro Branch is much better than access to teh main library.
Could you or the county staff explain on what basis this decision was made?
Mayor of Carrboro