Miami-Dade Won't Close Any Libraries Now, But Huge Layoffs and Reduced Hours Are Likely

Categories: Politicks

Carlos Gimenez.jpg
Six weeks ago, Miami-Dade County commissioners refused to touch the property tax rate, knowing that without an increase they'd have to drastically chop services. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's solution -- shuttering 22 libraries -- was met with a rowdy public protest.

This weekend, Gimenez told commissioners he'd found a way to balance the budget while keeping all the libraries open. Hooray! But it turns out that solution involves laying off 169 staffers and slashing hours.

See also: Mayor Gimenez Recommends Closing 22 Libraries, Laying Off 251 Librarians and 149 Firefighters

The library layoffs are likely to raise the most ire as commissioners meet today on the budget, but the Miami-Dade Fire Department would also lose 59 firefighters and three trucks.

For the library system, the layoffs would mean about a third of the system's 461 staffers getting a pink slip and would force all libraries to open for about three-quarters their current schedule.

"To move toward a sustainable library system in the future, we must shift our perspective on how library services in Miami-Dade County are currently funded," Gimenez wrote to commissioners, according to the Miami Herald.

A Facebook group dedicated to fighting the cutbacks -- part of a protest movement that has also mounted rallies around the County -- quickly slammed the proposal yesterday and asked its 5,000 followers to write to commissioners to oppose the plan.

Lowering taxes to improve the economy may make sense, but not at the cost of layoffs of individuals who have dedicated time and life and have made a career our of public service -- not at the cost of individuals who are the sole breadwinners of their family. What will happen to them, when they are handed their pink slip, and are now overqualified for numerous jobs when employers see that they have a specialized Master's Degree in Library & Information Science?

Furthermore -- what will happen to us? What will happen to us when we go to a library and see that its doors a shuttered 1 more day, or 2 more days?

Commissioners are scheduled to start talking about the budget at 9:30 this morning at County Hall.

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4 comments
Daniel399
Daniel399

Oh the sad story. The library staff was cut by 150 full timers and 100 part timers in 2011 after $7.5 million was raided from the special taxing district. The money was dispersed as grants to UM, city of Coral Gables, Seraphic Fire, Frost School of Music, The Arsht Center and other high end organizations through the Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Not one tax payer was asked if their "special taxing district" money should go to art exhibits and music concerts. Not one taxpayer was asked if they preferred to having their Regional library open on a Sunday and have the free Science, Math and Reading tutoring program instead of these affluent organizations goven subsidies. Sunday hours and tutoring were cancelled in 2010.

So now, were you asked if you mind having no books, DVDs, Ebooks, children's books, time with a children's librarian, attending a book club, attending a baby lapsit or a toddler time, a creative writing class, losing the online computer course through learning express, losing learning a foreign language through Mango languages. All this is unaffordable based on the Mayor's poor planning and management skills. In his video interview with the Miami Herald editorial board he says, "we knew this day was coming two years ago." Now with each building being inadequately staffed, there are safety issues that need to be addressed. Three staff are expected to run the Palmetto Bay branch library over 40 hours (down from four.) Five staff are expected to run the Pinecrest Branch (down from eight.) Other than open and close and work the public service desks, there can be no additional services. The South Dade Regional was the source that would provide fill-in staff when these two locations needed help. SDR goes from 17 to 12 for six days of service in a two story building. They will not have staff to send.

The MDPLS materials budget includes books, magazines, newspapers, downloadable Ebooks and audiobooks, homework databases, and many other shared community resources.

FY2002-03 - $5,511,000

FY2003-04 - $6,200,000

FY2004-05 - $6,823,000

FY2005-06 - $6,750,000

FY2006-07 - $7,000,000

FY2007-08 - $5,500,000

FY2008-09 - $5,500,000

FY2009-10 - $2,949,000

FY2010-11 - $2,375,000

FY2011-12 - $1,600,000

FY2012-13 - $2,200,000 ($1,600,000 + $600,000 State Aid)

FY2012-13, there were 49 locations and two book mobiles, $500,000 in database access.

Pending for FY 2013-14, there are submitted scenarios of $500k, $750k, $1M and $$1.5M.

Library's Millage Rates:

.4860 in 2005

.4860 in 2006

.3842 in 2007

.3822 in 2008 National Award Winning Library System

.3822 in 2009

.2840 in 2010

.17950 in 2011 Gimenez came into office: 300 employes laid off, hours cut.

.17250 in 2012

.17250 Pending for FY 2013-14 Facing 169 layoffs and another 1/4 reduction in operating hours.

Did we ever have a chance, when the biggest cut came in 2011 with our Mayor in office?

Compare MDPLS to our neighbors...

http://www.broward.org/budget/2012/documents/oper/libpkscul.pdf

Broward County Budget for Libraries – FY 2012:

FY 12 Budget: $58,935,960

Positions: 654

Branches: 40

http://www.broward.org/Library/MyLibraryOnline/AboutUs/Pages/Default.aspx

Welcome to the Broward County Library – the ninth largest library system in the United States. Our 40 branch locations cover more than one million square feet, host over 10 million visitors and circulate nine million items annually.

Broward County Library has more than one million library card holders who can choose from over three million library materials for public use. The library receives 90,000 requests for items on hold each month.

Or

Hillsborough County's 2013 materials budget is $5,034,834 for 30 locations (including bookmobile, cybermobile for Spanish speakers, and their talking books).

In FY 2012-13, MDPLS has 49 branches with 440 staff. As of October 1st, your access to library services is drastically slashed and your access to books and other materials is horribly limited. 169 full timers are targeted plus 40 vacancies plus 50 (19 hour a week) part-timers. 271 older employees with seniority will carry the load for the diminished public service.

Daniel399
Daniel399

As a retired administrator of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, I can state that every county manager since Mr. Shiver has chafed at not being able to grab library dollars for some non library purpose. When the community leaders set up the special library taxing district, they knew it could easily become a slush fund for politicians, as happened at the Seaport and Airport. For many years, the taxing district functioned as it should. But in the last ten years, the wall has been breached, for small amounts at first, and then for audaciously larger amounts, such as the $5 million to $7 million appropriations given to another County department for nonlibrary projects. And now, Mayor Giminez, seeming to take his philosophy from the dark days of the Vietnam Nam war, has concluded that he must destroy the library in order to save it. He now intends to abolish the taxing district because in some unstated way, it is detrimental to library operations. No one should be fooled by this. It is a naked grab for money. This will not lower taxes at all. The Library millage will just be added to the general millage. People will pay the same taxes, but see less for it, since library service is one of the most visible county services to the general public. Today, the Library serves more residents on a daily basis than any other county service except Water and Sewer. Don't be distracted by the Mayor's buzzwords. The Library has been "24/7" for more than a decade. The Library has been providing "e-service" in the form of downloadable books, audio recordings, and specialized databases for a decade. E-books are part of the answer, but not the only answer. An e-book costs much more for a library than a paper copy, and can only be circulated 26 times before it self-destructs. A paper copy can circulate 100 times or more until it wears out. And this does not even begin to cover the value of trained professional staff. As novelist Neil Gaiman said, "The Internet can bring you a thousand answers; a librarian can bring you the right answer".I urge residents to fight hard to rescue one of the best library systems in America. And fight harder to save the Library Special Taxing District. Without it, you will receive diminished service while providing a blank check to the Mayor.

Daniel399
Daniel399

As a retired administrator of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, I can state that every county manager since Mr. Shiver has chafed at not being able to grab library dollars for some non library purpose. When the community leaders set up the special library taxing district, they knew it could easily become a slush fund for politicians, as happened at the Seaport and Airport. For many years, the taxing district functioned as it should. But in the last ten years, the wall has been breached, for small amounts at first, and then for audaciously larger amounts, such as the $5 million to $7 million appropriations given to another County department for nonlibrary projects.

And now, Mayor Giminez, seeming to take his philosophy from the dark days of the Vietnam Nam war, has concluded that he must destroy the library in order to save it. He now intends to abolish the taxing district because in some unstated way, it is detrimental to library operations. No one should be fooled by this. It is a naked grab for money. This will not lower taxes at all. The Library millage will just be added to the general millage. People will pay the same taxes, but see less for it, since library service is one of the most visible county services to the general public. Today, the Library serves more residents on a daily basis than any other county service except Water and Sewer.

Don't be distracted by the Mayor's buzzwords. The Library has been "24/7" for more than a decade. The Library has been providing "e-service" in the form of downloadable books, audio recordings, and specialized databases for a decade. E-books are part of the answer, but not the only answer. An e-book costs much more for a library than a paper copy, and can only be circulated 26 times before it self-destructs. A paper copy can circulate 100 times or more until it wears out. And this does not even begin to cover the value of trained professional staff. As novelist Neil Gaiman said, "The Internet can bring you a thousand answers; a librarian can bring you the right answer".

I urge residents to fight hard to rescue one of the best library systems in America. And fight harder to save the Library Special Taxing District. Without it, you will receive diminished service while providing a blank check to the Mayor.

Lovey DoRight
Lovey DoRight

Laying off the librarians yet giving others huge raises?? Yea that makes sense, smh:(

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