Budget panel asks library for more cuts and Norway library budget proposal calls for “big increase”

The Norway (ME) Memorial Library enters its second round of negotiations with the Norway Budget Committee over a budget increase to cover rising human resource costs.

In an April 22 meeting, the Budget Committee criticized the library’s original proposal, a 7.4 percent budget increase, on the grounds that the library’s requested budget exceeds those proposed by other city departments. The library trustees responded to the criticism by cutting many items from their original proposal. In a meeting on May 1, however, committee members asked the library for further cuts.

Among the expenses already cut by the library was $3,500 for part-time staff who would fill in for full-time employees on vacation or sick leave. Trustee Steve Veazey notes that “Some of [these concessions] impinge on the library programs a little bit, but the times are such we felt we had to do our part. We had heard the message the week before that the budget was too high.”

However, many Budget Committee members argue that the library’s proposed budget is still too high. Committee member Arthur Hill argues that the library should not be exempt from limits imposed on other departments: “Everyone else in town is having to live with a 3 percent increase. Why not them?’

But library trustees contend that the large increase is necessary to provide a cost-of-living raise for staff as well as to cover rising health insurance premiums and workers compensation. Over 70 percent of the library’s budget is allocated to salaries and benefits for the five full-time and one part-time workers

Town Manager David Holt said he was concerned about the higher budget for 2009, but because Trustees are an elected board and do not answer directly to him, Holt was hesitant to comment line by line.