Torn pages: Scottsville, Crozet libraries could close
Not only is Crozet not getting the mammoth new library it was expecting, a possible ten percent budget cut might mean closure of the library it already enjoys, and Scottsville could lose its library with just a five percent cut. This is according to Anthony Townsend, president of the board of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.
"If what Albemarle County staff is considering comes to pass," said Townsend at a January 19 press conference, "closures and services will occur as early as this summer."
Such dire words are not a message that is appreciated by Duane Snow. The Republican budget hawk–- elected to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on a zero-based budget platform–- points out that County Administrator Robert Tucker has asked all departments to consider such cuts.
"Nothing has been decided yet," says Snow. "We're just going through a process to get information together."
According to speakers at the press conference, who included Library director John Halliday, there's no way to cut budgets without killing libraries.
"We can't cut half our heat or air-conditioning," said Halliday.
In response to a reporter's question, Halliday said that salaries for full-time library staff range from about $20,000 annually to about $40,000 annually. "We're having trouble recruiting," noted board member Timothy F. Jost Tolson.
In his prepared remarks, Board President Townsend noted that Albemarle already falls below the state average of $35.25 by spending just $33.74 per capita on libraries and urged the public to speak out about the issue–- before libraries start closing.
Still, Supervisor Snow worries that politics might already be leapfrogging ahead of process in the effort to trim an approximately $6 million deficit that was revealed the day after his election.
Snow, who wonders whether the library board would ever consider making extensive use of volunteers, says he recently took a phone call from a parent upset when her son came home from school saying there wasn't enough money for paper. It turned out the school division still had a budget surplus.
Of Tuesday's press conference (to which he wasn't invited), Snow says, "You don't know how much is to pressure public opinion and how much is facts."
The library president noted that public and media are always invited to the board's meetings, the next one of which occurs at 1pm on Monday, January 25.
"Five percent really does mean closing a branch," said Townsend.