County budget meets to discuss funding libraries

The Jackson County Budget Committee meets Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 9 a.m. to discuss the 2007-08 Jackson County Library budget and whether funds will be allocated to reopen libraries. The meeting comes as a result of the filing of an intent to award a bid. "This does not mean someone will be awarded a contract, it is required that notice be given to negotiate," said Danny Jordan, county administrator. Jordan said the process will be considered in considerable detail at the budget meeting.
The budget committee must make a decision before any additional process is forthcoming. If the committee does not allocate funds, that means there would be no funding for libraries. If they allocate funds then the next step will be consideration by the county commissioners.   
Following the  presentation of a proposal from the employees union, the bid from Library Systems and Services (LSSI) was released. The LSSI bid was approximately $1.4 million dollars less in the first year than the union bid. The union projected a six percent annual increase whereas LSSI presented a three percent increase. Over five years the LSSI bid would be $9.5 million less than that presented by the union. As a result, the county is viewing details of the LSSI offer.      
Jordan said should there be a funding allocation, LSSI has said they could start opening a couple of libraries at a time as early as six weeks after all the legalities are accomplished. And that libraries could be fully operational 10 weeks after contracts are finalized.  Jordan said LSSI’s initial bid was for increased hours at six branches.
Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith outlined some of the differences between the union proposal and that of the private firm, LSSI. He said LSSI does not have PERS, but they do have medical, 401K and comparable pay. They are non-union and have more flexibility in their hiring procedure. Smith said he understood LSSI would have interviews with all former library employees.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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