The Central Arkansas Library System has instituted a hiring freeze in an effort to reduce 700,000 dollars in spending over the next three years, according to a memo sent to CALS staff Thursday by outgoing library director Bobby Roberts. He said that in December the library Board of Trustees accepted his proposal to look at ways to cut costs.
Roberts said the library administration plans to cut 300,000 dollars in salaries and benefits over the next three years. Roberts said expenses have outpaced anticipated revenues because property values have not risen as expected. Roberts, who announced last year that he would retire on March 4th, is to be succeeded as head of the library by Little Rock attorney Nate Coulter later this year.
Below is the message sent by Roberts to CALS staff.
UPDATE: Roberts confirmed in an email the hiring freeze is "designed to eliminate 6 to 8 positions over the next three years." He cited a lack of growth in property tax revenue as well as cuts in state funding to public libraries passed by the Arkansas Legislature earlier this year. Those cuts amounted to about 1 million dollars to libraries around the state.
"As vacant positions occur we will evaluate them to see if they are essential for our operations. If the position is essential, we will fill it; if it is not, then the vacant position will be eliminated. Over the past six years or so the growth in property taxes that provide about 95% of our revenue has not kept up with the demands for services which is pushing up our expenditures. Also, we lost $135,000 annually when last session the General Assembly cut state-wide aide to public libraries. We need to get our expenditures back in line with our revenues," he said.
According to the CALS 2015 General Fund Budget document, total library revenue for the year was about 17.3 million dollars, 15.94 million of which came from Ad valorem taxes from the cities of Little Rock and Maumelle, as well as Pulaski and Perry Counties. Its expenditures for 2015 amounted to about 19.5 million dollars.