Akron OH – Beginning Monday, April 13, the Library will use a limited number of staff to support its digital services and necessary operations. Library trustees endorsed a personnel cost reduction plan that will result in furloughing 339 library employees. Last month, Library administrators reduced planned expenditures in other areas of the Library’s 2020 budget and announced a selective hiring freeze.
“The Library is proactively minimizing the impact of expected reductions to revenue. Savings realized now will help make future revenue losses easier to bear,” said Library Executive Director Pam Hickson-Stevenson. The projected estimated net savings for one month is $691,014.
“The Coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on our world. From dangerous surges in confirmed cases to growing numbers of deaths and from Ohio’s Stay at Home orders to social distancing recommendations and lack of cleaning supplies, it is uncertain how long the Library buildings will be closed for business,” said Hickson-Stevenson.
“We also see growing concerns regarding the stability of the Library’s funding, particularly via the Public Library Fund, which receives 1.7% of the total general tax revenue collected by the State of Ohio. Total GRF tax receipts ended the month of March 10.5% below estimates. This revenue loss will be reflected in the April distribution of the PLF. Approximately 44% of ASCPL’s revenue comes from the state via the PLF.”
Library officials will offer regular staff affected by the furlough the opportunity to cash out up to five days of accrued vacation. “The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services currently is overwhelmed with a record-breaking number of Ohioans filing for unemployment. This high volume means a delay of waiting weeks for the arrival of unemployment benefits,” said Hickson-Stevenson. “We would like to help furloughed employees better bridge that time between their last Library pay before the furlough (check issued on April 16) and the first payment of unemployment benefits.”
Employees on the Library’s health, vision and dental insurances will remain covered, uninterrupted, at least through May 31, a government-mandated date. Life insurance and the employee assistance program provided by the Library continues for all employees. The Library’s human resources department will be helping and supporting employees who are affected.
“The Library needs to maintain a relationship to and connection with staff in order to re-open the Library system’s buildings. However, with the expected drop in funding, it is also necessary to reduce expenses,” said Hickson-Stevenson.
The personnel cost reduction plan also included defined expectations and roles for 50 non-furloughed employees.
“We thank our Library employees for their continued hard work and sacrifice, and look forward to the time when the state stay-at-home order can be lifted, and our library buildings can reopen,” said Library Board President James D. Casey.
All ASCPL buildings are closed until at least May 1. Library officials are developing a Return to Service plan, which will be implemented in stages once the stay-at-home order expires. Continued loss of revenue and the current lack of cleaning supplies could affect plans to reopen library buildings and return to on-site services for the community.
The Library will continue to serve customers through its 24/7 digital resources including: