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Staff Reduction

June 7, 2016



Daisy Porter-Reynolds, Aurora Public Library Executive Director


Aurora Public Library announces staff, service reductions

On Tuesday, June 7, Aurora Public Library officials announced cost-cutting measures to balance its budget.

Since the beginning of 2016, the library has been engaged in a strategic hiring freeze to lower expenses. However, looking to 2017, it is anticipated that there will be a gap of revenues vs. expenditures that will force additional cost-saving measures.

Historically, the library receives roughly 85 percent ($8.5 million) of its operating revenue from property taxes and the remaining 15 percent ($1.5 million) from fees, grants and other sources.

In the past, the library has used cash reserves to offset the difference and balance the budget. Although it is not recommended budget practice to use cash reserves to balance a budget, the library strategically undertook this practice to keep its tax rate low.

Last year, the Aurora City Council approved a tax rate increase from 24.5 cents to 25.5 cents per $100 of Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). This was the first increase for operations for the library since 1996; the current equivalent of the 1996 rate would be 37 cents per $100 of EAV. The 2015 increase generated an additional $300,000 annually.

“The Library Board is committed to working within our fiscal constraints and is not looking for additional tax increases in 2017,” said Board President John Savage. “We intend to present a balanced budget to the city while continuing to provide a high level of library service to Aurora residents. The majority of our cash reserves are now expended and we need to look to other measures.”

As a result, 21 full- and part-time positions spanning all library locations are being eliminated. Ten of the positions currently are vacant.

Nine union positions, six management positions and six “other” (part-time unbenefited, seasonal/temporary and administrative assistant) positions will be eliminated. Layoff notices were issued Tuesday morning according to contract agreements for AFSCME Local 2283 employees.

In addition, after reviewing circulation patterns and volumes, the Express Center, located at 1100 Church Road, will be closed and Outreach Services staff will move to the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library at 101 S. River St. Only 1 to 2 percent of the library system’s total circulation is generated by the Express Center.

Hours at the West Branch, 233 S. Constitution Drive, will be reduced from 68 to 44 per week. West Branch circulation statistics have declined by more than 20 percent since the Richard and Gina Santori Library opened one year ago in downtown Aurora, indicating that many West customers now visit Santori.

The cost-reducing measures will begin to take place Friday, Aug. 19, which will be the last day of work for affected staff. Hours will change at the West Branch and Eola Road Branch beginning Saturday, Aug. 20. The Express Center will close in early 2017. There will be other operational efficiencies implemented throughout the system that will have minimal impact on the customer experience.

The library will offer voluntary resignation/retirement with enhanced severance benefits in the hope of softening the impact of job loss to its employees.

For the 11 staff members (eight full-time/three part-time) who will lose their jobs, the library will offer counseling through its employee assistance program as well as employment resources.

The total savings from the layoffs is expected to be nearly $250,000 in 2016 and $800,000 in 2017. Coupled with the closing of the Express Center and other cost-saving actions, the library anticipates a savings of more than $1 million.

“Our goal is to provide a balanced budget,” Savage said. “This will be done by cost-saving actions, use of limited cash reserves from 2016 and strict budgeting practices. We feel we will be able to present a balanced budget in 2017 that will have minimal impact on the residents of Aurora. We also are not ruling out other cost-saving actions.”

“We sought ways to close the gap without reducing our workforce,” said Executive Director Daisy Porter-Reynolds. “We have not been filling vacant positions to save costs in the short term. Unfortunately, our revenue shortfall is large enough that we must resort to a reduction in force.”

Savage said the library’s revenues have been lower than its operating expenses for several years. “We have been able to draw from reserve funds to make up the gap in previous years, but we will soon expend our reserves,” he said. “We have no choice but to reduce costs, and salaries and benefits are our largest expenses.”

Staff costs for 2016 are estimated to be $8.5 million, with total expenditures projected at $11.7 million. Revenues are estimated at $10 million, leaving a gap of $1.7 million. The gap was closed in the past by drawing down on cash reserves.

The Santori Library opened on June 15, 2015. “The construction of the Santori Library resulted in a greater use of technology and a building that is much more efficient to run than our 1904 building,” Savage said. “We have gained efficiencies through automation and reduced waste, which allows us to make these cuts less severe. Unfortunately, our revenue shortfall is large enough that we must resort to a reduction in force.”

“Reducing staff and hours and closing one location was a difficult step, but it was necessary,” Porter-Reynolds said. “The cost-cutting plan is designed to lower expenses and continue to provide the services we have been delivering to Aurora citizens for more than 100 years.”

Prior to the personnel reductions, the library employed 182 workers. After the reduction in staff, the system will have 161 full- and part-time employees.

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Aurora, Illinois 60506

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