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      Despite successful millage, Flint Public Library forced to cut hours

      Despite community support for the Flint Public Library millage request in August of this year, the library was hit by a larger than expected GM tax revaluation in September resulting in a permanent budget reduction of about $180,000 annually. This represents an additional reduction in millage funds than was projected during the millage campaign.

      The new millage, which is an increase of .5 mills, won TMt be collected until July of 2012, necessitating a 19-month transition, transformation and strategic planning period for the Library Board and staff.

      "Being a good fiduciary agent of the public TMs trust means making decisions to live within your means while providing the best possible service to the community," said Kay Schwartz, Interim Library Director.

      To balance the budget, the main library will close on Mondays, but will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., effective January 31, 2011. The branches, North Flint, West Flint and Cody, will remain open, two days a week, however the days and hours may change. "This plan keeps our branches open to the community while still providing 55 open hours a week at the Main Library," explained Schwartz.

      Property tax revenue for 2011 will be $3.6 million, down from $4.7 million two years ago. Further reductions are expected through 2012 mostly due to the erosion of property values. To bridge the gap, the plan calls for reduced hours and using a portion of the library TMs fund balance.

      Initial cost-saving measures to maintain a balanced budget have included: a 30 percent reduction in staff, Library staff now contributing toward their health care coverage costs, and for the fiscal year July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011 staff will take six unpaid furlough days and six unpaid holidays.

      Budget reductions were accomplished through attrition and a willingness by the Library unions to work with the Board on solutions to keep the library open. As staff members have retired they have not been replaced, and part time positions were eliminated.