Add the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District to the list of government agencies facing a budget shortfall.
As a result of a downturn in tax revenue, the district’s Board of Trustees approved an employee buyout plan Thursday night.
Ninety-four employees will be eligible for the voluntary plan, which would pay them one week’s salary for each year of full-time service, along with some benefits and accrued sick pay.
“If we don’t do this then we’re looking at more cuts to our staff in severe ways,” Executive Director Jeanne Goodrich told the board.
Staff told the board that if all eligible employees took the buyout, it would cost the district almost $5 million in the short term but save $110 million in the long term.
The vote was unanimous.
The library district must cut $11 million from its $52 million budget. The district has instituted a hiring freeze, cut its materials budget by $3 million and has limited expenses such as printing, postage and training, Goodrich said.
She said there will be more cuts in materials spending, which accounts for about 20 percent of the district’s budget.
While the libraries have seen an increase in patrons during the recession, Goodrich said they probably have not yet noticed the budget-cutting measures because materials usually are ordered far in advance.
She said consumers will probably soon have to wait longer for popular books, and may not find more obscure materials at all.
The shortfall comes because 96 percent of the district’s revenue comes from property and sales taxes, both of which have declined in the recession.
Goodrich said property tax revenues are expected to drop 25 percent this year, following an 8 percent drop last year. It may be several years before revenues pick up again.
About 58 percent of the district’s budget goes to salaries and benefits. Another 21 percent goes toward services and supplies.
Goodrich said it is unclear how much the buyout program could save. It depends on how many people volunteer for it. She said other districts have seen an 18 percent to 20 percent acceptance rate.
The district also wants to renegotiate its contract with union employees, perhaps asking for salary reductions or postponing salary increases, among other things.
If officials cannot figure out how to save $11 million, Goodrich said, layoffs may become necessary.
The district is forbidden from running a deficit.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at email@example.com or 702-383-0307.