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Supporters continue fight for library

Plattsburgh Common Council is concerned about use of funds

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.

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Public library supporters say they are pushing forward to save jobs and the library itself.

Their only chance to save positions appears to be a funding increase from the City of Plattsburgh. But the city’s budget, under the new tax cap, didn’t come without its own sacrifices.

The Plattsburgh Common Council had previously turned down a request from the libraries Board of Directors for more money. But the budget isn’t scheduled to be finalized until mid January.

“There has been no decision,” said Common Council member James Calnon.

A large crowd of library supporters turned out for Thursday’s Common Council meeting, some of them speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“This is a mess,” said Kate Gardner, of Plattsburgh.

Indeed, there has been little explanation as to how the library ended up with a $167,340 deficit. Fund balance cuts that deficit to about $150,000, with the rest taken care of by four job cuts voted in by the Board of Directors at an emotional meeting earlier in the week.

Calnon said there needs to be more communication between the board and Common Council, and the city must be able to trust how funds are used. For example, he said three years ago the library asked for funds to pursue three items. The city gave the go ahead for items one and two and the library went with one and three instead.

“We are very concerned about the use of funds,” Calnon said.

The library receives state and federal funds, but the majority of its budget is covered by the City of Plattsburgh, which mandates library services. Plattsburgh gives the library $811,000 toward its operating budget.

Suzanne Barton, a clerk whose position was cut, questioned how the Board of Directors is chosen and if each individual’s background is considered.

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