December 9, 2010 in City

East Side branch will remain open

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane’s endangered East Side library will remain open at least another year.

The Spokane Public Library branch had been on the chopping block to deal with budget cuts.

But the proposal proved extremely controversial and united an unusual faction of liberal and conservative activists as well as dozens of school children.

After a library board of trustees meeting Thursday evening, board members and library administrators said they were certain that the branch was safe for next year.

“I’m thrilled. I’m relieved. I’m grateful,” said Library Director Pat Partovi.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board approved a labor contract that calls for a 1 percent raise for about 65 library workers next year. Not knowing the outcome of labor negotiations, library administrators had set aside about $90,000 more than needed. The board also approved a proposal to cut the amount available for raises for the library’s 38 nonunion workers from $120,000 to $65,000.

The cost of keeping the branch open was estimated at about $150,000.

East Side, at 524 S. Stone St., and possibly some of the system’s five other branches could be in trouble again soon because next year’s budget will use about $450,000 in reserves.

The board met with the Spokane City Council on Thursday afternoon to ponder long-term solutions to the budget problems.

Councilman Richard Rush, who is the council’s liaison to the library board, said among the ideas was a levy lid lift – a property tax boost – specifically for library services. Another was working with state legislators to change state law allowing the creation of a separate municipal library district.

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