RED BANK: LIBRARY LAYOFFS MAY BE REVERSED

rbpl sale 2 020213The fate of jobs for three full-time librarians is still up in the air. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials said they are working toward a budget fix that might undo the layoff of half the staff at the borough library two weeks ago.

At Wednesday night’s borough council meeting, administrator Stanley Sickels said he and borough CFO Eugenia Poulos had developed an alternative to the library’s budget that might “maintain the full-time staff.”

Now, attention turns to the eight-member library board of trustees, which gathers Thursday night in what may be its best-attended meeting in history.

Six of 11 staffers were pink-slipped on March 12 in response to what library officials have estimated as a $131,000 shortfall in operating funds for the current year. Board members contend personnel costs eat up 95 percent of the facility’s budget, which they say is out of line with other libraries.

Shortly after the layoffs, Sickels said in response to questions at Wednesday night’s borough council meeting, he received the library’s proposed budget for the year. He said he saw opportunities to save money, and possibly all three full-time jobs left vacant after the layoffs.

Sickels said he had shared his numbers with the finance committee of the library board.

“I think we have made some progress,” Sickels said. “There’s been some give and take.”

Trustees president John Grandits told the council and audience the board members are “trying to work through it. There are a number of problems. They seem picayune, but they’re important to all of us.”

He added that contrary to some scuttlebutt, “the library is not going to close, and we have to figure out how to make it work.”

The library board meets at the library, 84 West Front Street, at 6:30 p.m.

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