Plattsburgh Public Library cuts anger public

The Plattsburgh Public Library, faced with a $150,000 shortfall, cut four positions despite public outcry.

The Plattsburgh Public Library, faced with a $150,000 shortfall, cut four positions despite public outcry. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— Suzanne Barton has four children, her husband’s pay has been slashed and she just found out she’s losing her job at the Plattsburgh Public Library.

“I am going to be the first clerk to go,” she said, in tears at Monday night’s Plattsburgh Public Library Board special meeting.

Faced with a $150,000 shortfall, the board of directors voted to cut four positions, two librarians, one clerk and one paige.

Board members said they love the library too, but cuts had to be made somewhere.

“The library is not a business,” said board member Harold Brohinsky. “You have to decide what to sacrifice.”

A large crowd gathered for Monday night’s meeting.

Plattsburgh resident Shera Marston is concerned about living in a community that doesn’t support its library.

“The city will have to contribute to the library,” she said. “They haven’t been very supportive.”

Plattsburgh Common Council member Tim Carpenter, liaison to the library, said several departments have requested more money, and the library is one of them. The Council has yet to make a decision, he said.

It finalizes the city budget in January.

Library staff were shocked to learn about the deficit and the layoffs. They said they were given no notice.

“We didn’t know about being $150,000 in the hole until we heard about it on WIRY,” said Librarian Colleen Pelletier. “No one could explain how. We were blindsided.”

The library’s projected budget shortfall is $167,340, minus $17,000 in fund balance that can be applied to next year’s budget.

Pelletier said the board won’t talk to them about the budget. Library staff has ideas to save money, and while it may not add up to a lot, it could save at least one position.

Other members of the community urged the public to take its case to the Common Council and demand more funding for the library.

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