City seeks to save story timeBy Heather Murtagh
Keeping the library open Fridays and maintaining community activities like story time could continue in San Bruno if $22,000 is not cut as originally planned.
On Tuesday, the San Bruno City Council approved a $30.3 million budget for the recently-started fiscal year. Among the $1.85 million in reductions was $70,000 in library services. The council requested staff come up with a plan to cut $48,000 instead, saving $22,000 for library services. A proposal to make that work should go before the council Tuesday, July 27.
"There are a lot of people who use the library for Internet access, that's it," said Councilwoman Irene O'Connell. "It's free. They can access their e-mail. ... That's their only access."
Taking away one day of access seemed like a larger harm to the community than the benefit of saving $22,000, she said.
Mayor Jim Ruane agreed.
"Believe it or not, not everyone has their own computer. Computers help with job searches. And with the economy, some people can't afford to check out a movie. They can check one out for free at the library," said Ruane.
How to cover the $22,000, however, has not yet been established, said City Manager Connie Jackson. Jackson is considering all options, like reconfiguring library hours and cuts in other places. Dipping into the reserves is not an option given the council's previous direction, she said.
San Bruno's library is currently open four hours on Friday, but would not be open on Fridays should the entire $70,000 in cuts were to go into effect, said Library Director Randy Schwartz. Community programs like an adult book club, summer reading program and story time would also be cut.
If $48,000 in cuts were made, on the other hand, Friday hours would be maintained and little kids in pajamas can come to story times. Currently, San Bruno offers story times in English and Spanish, and also offers a pajama story time, said Schwartz.
O'Connell noted that people often forget the fiscal year goes from July 1 through June 30, basically the middle of summer. Making cuts to the summer reading program would affect kids both this summer and next, she said.
Regardless of the proposal approved, the library will be open two hours less daily Monday through Friday, changing the hours to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Approval of the budget was previously postponed on June 22 since only three of the five councilmembers were in attendance.
Filling the $1.85 million budget hole will be $900,000 in one-time funds, $137,000 in savings from sharing fire services with Millbrae and $821,000 from reducing employee positions. Salary freezes were accepted by two of the city's six bargaining groups. Negotiations are continuing as the budget is built in anticipation of all groups signing on. This fiscal year will also have eight furlough days for city workers.
At the same meeting, the council approved a six-month contract for legal services as an interim solution to the vacant city attorney positions.
Pamela Thompson, whose last day as city attorney is July 16, resigned from the post in June to take the same position in Redwood City. Thompson's last day in the San Bruno office was Friday. She starts in Redwood City in early August.
In the meantime, the council hired the San Carlos firm Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn and Lanzone for interim city attorney services over the next six months. Under the contract, Bob Lanzone will serve as the interim city attorney with support from Greg Rubens as interim deputy city attorney as needed for $14,000 per month. The contract calls for Lanzone to have office hours in San Bruno two days a week, attend all regular and special City Council meetings and attend Planning Commission meetings as needed. The contract excludes Lanzone from labor negotiations, legal representation for workers compensation claim and litigation, specialized legal advice and representation of the city in major litigation.
Copyright ©2010 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 07/16/2010.