Library director submits a balanced budget

By David Louis

RAWLINS — Although Monday’s library board meeting drew heated comments at times, cooler heads prevailed during Tuesday’s Carbon County Commissioners budget session.

After nearly one week of sparring, Bobbie Morgan, Carbon County Library director, presented a budget in which the board and others burned the midnight oil to complete.

The budget presented to commissioners had come full circle, Morgan said.

“We originally were looking at a cut of 30 percent and we got that down to 28 percent. Then we were looking at 73 percent off the mill levy and it was 60 percent overall. Now we are back to using the original 30 percent,” she said.

“I’m happy we have a budget that I can now go back to the staff and explain, and I am happy that the process is over so I can now concentrate on what I’m here for, which is providing library service to the communities,” she said.

Morgan added, “The board approved the budget you have before you. At (Monday’s) meeting, it was suggested that we talk about adding $36,000 and I am hoping the Commissioners see fit to do that when they are making their consideration on this particular budget.”

Although the commissioners will not have a tentative budget set until early July, they did seem amenable to the request.

In attendance at both board meetings, Commissioner Sue Jones had a hand in crafting the final document that included $75,000 to be used as cash for the outlying libraries.

The funding earmarked for the satellite branches would be used for any expenditure deemed necessary.

The events that played out during the past two days were not all peaches and cream, Jones said.

“Unfortunately we had to cut staff at the Rawlins main branch to make this work, which we are all experiencing devastation and there’s nothing you can say about it that makes it better,” Jones said.

The loss of two positions at the Rawlins branch reduced personnel expenditures from $472,262 to $310, 079, or from 82 percent of its overall budget to 76 percent.

“That was a huge cut on their part. As Director Morgan said, they are short $35,183,” Jones said. “I would recommend to the other commissioners … that this too would be in the form of cash, but not restricted to outlying libraries. That it’s to balance out the budget that they can see fit to run the operation this year.”

Although not a patron of the library, Jones admitted they have tangible value.

“All of the things that we have in this county that cover the social aspects of our lives … libraries, and senior centers, medical clinics, all of these things are incredibly important,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, they can’t function solely off of government money any more. We have to find some other way.”

Ideas that have been kicked around include volunteers, in-kind donations and grants that could be used to help fill future budget shortfalls.

“I think everyone is kind of re-energized and sort of a mini-implosion often times does that,” Jones said. “I truly appreciate the cooperation and I am here to put my money where my mouth is … if you have something you want me to do tell me what to do.”

Now that the dust has begun to settle, and the imminent threat of closing libraries has been averted — at least until a formal county budget is released — Morgan is pleased with the amount of support she has received.

“There was a surprising number of comment cards that were positive from the community, and we are very grateful for the people who took the time to write and posted on Facebook,” Morgan said. “What it really did was give us an idea on what people want throughout the county. This will help us when we start our strategic planning, so I’m excited about that.

“We will work with what we have and we will come back if it doesn’t work,” she added.

“You and everybody else,” Jones said matter-of-factly. “That’s the scenario. Everybody is coming back, but it’s tight. There’s a lot of room for a lot of things not to work.”

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