The Central Virginian

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Louisa County supervisors open to more library hours

Posted on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The Louisa County Library is hoping to add four extra hours to their operating hours, as well as another part-time staff.

If it’s budget season, then four more hours for the Louisa County Library must be the hot topic.

For the second consecutive year, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s director asked the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to provide enough funding to boost weekly operating hours from 44 to 48. Louisa’s library is currently open fewer hours than other rural branches in Nelson and Greene counties.

County Administrator Christian Goodwin recommended a draft budget on Feb. 4 that includes a $14,264 funding increase for the library in fiscal year 2020. Goodwin said of that amount, $6,000 is targeted to pay two existing part-time employees to staff the library during the extra four hours.

David Plunkett, library director, had requested a $32,000 increase, with $19,000 to go to a new part-time person who would help staff the extra hours. Another $5,300 would go to upgrade a second position for the same purpose. He said the third person may be needed when the two current employees, who work 20 hours each week, are unavailable.

Plunkett said Tuesday morning he had not seen Goodwin’s proposal yet, and declined to comment. But he made a pitch for his proposal at the supervisors’ Jan. 22 meeting.

“Our request is to regain the hours lost in past years,” Plunkett said. “We need another body on staff to do that.”

During the supervisors’ Feb. 4 budget work session, Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral district) and Chairman Toni Williams (Jackson district) criticized the library for paying health and other benefits to its part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

“I was kind of shocked they pay full benefits to their part-time people,” Adams said. “Is the money going to four more hours or is it going to a rich benefit package?”

Plunkett said benefits for part-time employees has been the standard at the library for as long as he can remember.

The Louisa library currently has three full-time and three part-time employees, according to Wanda Colvin, the county’s finance director. One of the three part-time staff works 15 hours per week now.

The library was allocated $368,718 in the county’s fiscal year 2019 budget.

Supervisors considered a draft budget Monday that is altered somewhat from the requests submitted by department heads in the fall. The capital budget, initially $9.9 million, was cut almost in half to $4.7 million. Goodwin’s proposed $114 million budget would include a $4.2 million operating surplus, the same as in the current fiscal year.

The budget leaves an unrestricted fund balance of $5 million, compared to the current $13 million. The supervisors voted on Monday to transfer $5 million out of the fund balance into a fund restricted to long-term capital projects.

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s Feb. 7, 2019 issue.

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