At the start of the Inyo Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the County Administrator clearly did not want the directors of Library or Museum services to speak personally about all of the proposed ways to cut and change their departments. However, they did speak when asked by the Board. Later in the meeting, Administrator Kevin Carunchio recommended that the Supervisors support combining Libraries and the Museum with just one director.
Deputy Administrator Pam Hennarty took charge of the discussion. She said it felt like the public discussion on this issue was “from Fox News or MSNBC.” Hennarty said, “This is not about closing the libraries or large impacts.” She said it’s about changing hours of operation. Hennarty said Library Director Nancy Masters had proposed two plans. One would increase expenses and the other would create zero savings. Masters had reasoned her employees suffered a surprise 27% cut a year or so ago and she wanted to make up for that.
What Hennarty called Service Redesign Option 1 would save $6600 and make some personnel changes including combining library and museum workers. Option 2 would use people in different ways and close the museum two days per week and the library additionally on Monday. This plan would save $87,000. Option 3, which most of the Supervisors supported, would include the same closures but with different employee choices and save $47,000. Option 4 would combine the two departments and hire one director. Facility hour closures would be the same as other options and would save $147,000.
Library Director Masters described a two-year process of big pay cuts, going to temporary workers, and dealing with vacancies. She called it “an extremely difficult time.” She pointed to the Library’s support of education, students, adults.
Supervisor Linda Arcularius said the Supervisors are not getting “favorable attention” for raises they gave earlier. The fact is, they didn’t have the money to pay for so-called equity raises and general cost of living raises. This put the County budget into a $2 million deficit. All the “Service Redesign” has been called a euphemism for cuts and layoffs to make up that shortfall.
Members of the public spoke out in support of the Library and the Museum. Rich White of the Friends of the Museum said he felt it was important to keep the Museum open 7 days a week. As a former motel owner in town, White said visitors like access to the Museum all week long. Dave Wagner said the former Library-Museum Director Bill Michaels commented when he left that the combined job of director over two departments was a factor in his departure.
Museum Director Jon Klusmire was asked by Supervisor Jeff Griffiths about sharing staff. Klusmire said realistically there is some potential but not to the extent presented. He said closure a couple of days could mean a loss of revenue. He pointed to many projects underway at the museum and the small staff there, plus his considerable work on County promotions. Klusmire said it was “disconcerting to have the museum upended because of Library problems.”
Then County Administrator Carunchio dropped the bombshell that he recommended Option 4 for maximum savings. Some in the audience gasped since Option 4 would mean the loss of the current Directors and hiring of a combined director. The Supervisors did not leap to agreement with that. Although Linda Arcularius did say Option 3 had benefits but she would go with Option 4 and “see what it looks like in detail. We need the impacts identified,” she said.
Supervisor Matt Kingsley went with Option 2 or 3. Supervisor Griffiths said Option 3 “is the best of not great choices.” Supervisor Rick Pucci said he was trending toward Option 3. He also said, “If 3 does not work, I would go to 4 or 2 or Ms. Master’s Road Map.” Supervisor Mark Tillemans said he would go for Option 3. Administrator Carunchio said the staff will return with information for the Board’s “necessary actions.” He said that to maximize this, he would need cooperation.