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Library positions could be saved

City lawmakers also faulted some library employees for its fiscal woes

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.

— “It all has to do with the last contract that was negotiated and pay equity,” said Common Council member Chris Jackson. “The language in the contract is the craziest language I have ever seen.”

One employee received a 30-percent raise, he said, and a stipend enables employees to avoid contributing to their health insurance.

“Library employees accrue double the sick time than any other employee in the City of Plattsburgh.”

Kasprzak said one employee has accumulated 636 sick days since 1982.

“Someone is not really going to work when she is supposed to go to work and people have to go in her place and this all adds up,” Kasprzak said.

They are contractually obligated to work Saturdays and Kasprzak said employees instead call in sick.

And if they don't get their way, the mayor said, they file a grievance.

“Grievances cost money,” he said. “This adds to the deficit problem.”

“I wouldn't lay off those four individuals,” he continued. “I would lay off the people who have not been coming to work and abuse their sick time. But you can't do that because of seniority.”

The library has had weak management for the past four or five years, Kasprzak said, and the contract was “very generous.” Those factors and selfish employees are why there is a deficit, he said.

“To give more money to an enterprise that doesn't watch it right,” Kasprzak said, “that is not how I govern.”

He clarified that the library remains open 55 hours and is not being gutted. But it is losing “four good people.”

“This problem isn't going away,” Kasprzak said. “I tell the truth.”

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