Libraries to see 30 furloughed Wednesdays through 2011


POSTED: Friday, October 23, 2009

The Board of Education passed the state librarian's proposal to furlough employees for 30 Wednesdays, starting in November and continuing through June 30, 2011.

By a 10-1 vote yesterday, the board approved the furloughs, amounting to about an 8 percent pay cut for employees and $700,000 in savings for the library system.

The first furlough day would be Dec. 2., with some months seeing as many as three furlough Wednesdays.

It was the third proposal by state Librarian Richard Burns to shrink the library system's $3.5 million budget gap.

Most of the 557 library employees are part of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, and the schedule must be negotiated with the union before it can be adopted.

While HGEA members ratified a new contract allowing up to 18 furlough days this fiscal year and 24 furlough days next fiscal year, the library system needs only 15 furlough days each year to close the budget deficit because of other cost-cutting measures, officials said.

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Freezing 75 vacant positions saved $2.5 million, and operating reductions cut $120,000. Two fundraising campaigns raised $180,000.

Unlike other state agencies, libraries would close on Wednesday because it is one of only two days that all libraries are open, and would produce the most savings and cause the least confusion for customers, said Burns.

Burns said the furlough days are difficult for employees who work on weekends and have children who will not have school on Fridays.

Baron Baroza, head of library operations at the main library, accepted the furloughs along with several other employees.

“;It's nice to have a job during the holiday,”; he said, adding that libraries should stay open on Fridays “;for the people who need it.”;