Thursday, December 4, 2008

ESCONDIDO:Officials spare library branch; union balks at pay reductions

ESCONDIDO- Dec. 3.New details emerged Tuesday about the city's plans for drastic budget cuts, including a decision to dramatically reduce the hours of the downtown Escondido library in order to keep the East Valley library branch open on a limited basis.

In addition, City Manager Clay Phillips said plans to have all City Hall employees take 5 percent pay cuts have hit a possible roadblock: The labor union representing more than half the affected workers has balked at the proposal...

Phillips and the subcommittee have been haggling over possible cuts for several weeks. The cuts won't be final until they are presented to the full City Council in January, but the subcommittee has endorsed the cuts proposed by the city manager.

City officials backed away from their plan to close the East Valley library branch because they decided it was crucial to maintain service on the eastern side of town, according to Jerry Van Leeuwen, the city's director of community services. To make the $600,000 in library cuts endorsed by the budget subcommittee, city officials decided to slash hours at both libraries.

The main branch on Kalmia Street will go from 57 hours to 42 hours per week, and the East Valley branch will go from 36 hours to 15 per week. The main library will be closed on Fridays, and the East Valley branch will only be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Laura Mitchell, the city librarian, said the cuts will require her to lay off roughly half of the library's 46 part-time workers. All full-time workers will be retained, she said.

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