Funding dispute leads to drastic reduction in King William Libraries hours – Daily Press

From next month, King William Libraries will be open no more than four hours a day and will be closed three days a week following a funding standoff between the county and the Pamunkey Regional Library System.

The 70% reduction in hours from July 1 is even more drastic than cuts previously threatened by Pamunkey Regional Library director Tom Shepley. Pamunkey Regional Library operates library services in King William and other rural counties around Richmond.

King William and King and Queen counties have faced 50% cuts in hours after resisting a request for increased funding to the regional library system to allow staff to earn the minimum wage of Virginia. The King and Queen reversed course, but King William resisted Shepley’s request and is now considering alternatives to Pamunkey Regional Library to run services in the county.

Earlier this month, Shepley told King William County Administrator Percy Ashcraft in an email that county branches would drop from 52 hours a week to 16. King William has an Upper King William branch at the north end of the county and a branch at West Point.

Libraries would be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. Upper King William would open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday while West Point would be closed all day. Upper King William will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday. West Point will open for four hours from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Upper King William Library is expected to close on Thursday. West Point would open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. West Point would close on Fridays while Upper King William would open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Upper King William branch would close for the entire weekend, while West Point would open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and would be closed on Sunday.

“At the library board meeting in May, the board approved its budget for fiscal year 2023, which includes the implementation of a new compensation plan for library employees,” said Shepley said in his email. “The Library Board recognizes King William’s concern about the magnitude of the requested increase. However, the library board has recognized what is happening with Virginia’s minimum wage and, more importantly, the actual job market.

Shepley warned the cut could be even worse. “The reduction in hours is greater than the previously mentioned 50% figure, which only accounted for personnel costs in the branches,” he continued. “Other operating costs like rent and utilities have to be paid first, regardless of how many hours the branch is open. Hopefully this reduction in hours won’t get any worse, but it could if the library’s 10 part-timers file for unemployment, which they’re likely eligible for. »

The library will post the new opening hours at branches and send customers an email detailing the new hours. Shepley pointed out that other counties in the system – Goochland, Hanover and King and Queen “have all provided substantial increases in library funding”.

The library has increased its budget request to King William from $444,597 for the 2022 financial year to $593,168 for the 2023 financial year in a bid to raise wages to $15 an hour.

Ashcraft told the board the county was “held hostage” by the Pamunkey Regional Library.

“King William provides nearly $500,000 in funding for the public library. It’s not like you’re cutting your funding. It’s not a small sum,” he told supervisors. Ashcraft said the Pamunkey Regional Library gave the county little wiggle room.

“If you remember during the conversation we had with them, we asked them to give us a proposal in order to try to negotiate what could be a greater number from us but also to understand when we were giving a greater number what level of service would we get in return other than pay raises for employees. That never materialized,” he said. “Ultimately, the board n had no choice but to move on and you funded them.”

Ashcraft said King William County was frustrated with a 70% reduction in library hours. “If we were to cut our funding by 70%, you could cut it to $109,000 because that’s the level of support you’re getting with this proposal as opposed to what you were getting before,” he said. .

Ashcraft said the county has employees who don’t earn minimum wage, but a schedule is in place to get them there. “To push this and really cause trouble for the community and try in many ways to embarrass this council is not what regionalism is and it is certainly not the character of those who run the library right now,” he said.

David Macaulay, [email protected]

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