“I understand why the council voted the way they did, but I don’t think closing a library is the way to go.”
People attached to the library blamed council members for the upcoming closure. Councilman Ed O’Neill turned the focus on the Clinton Public Library board of directors.
“They’re a totally autonomous body,” O’Neill added. “The library board is the one that made the decision to close the library, not this body here. If you want to address that you need to go to the library board.”
Library director Amy Birtell shed more light on the matter, stating her board reacted first to the council’s decision to make major budget cuts. The board made its decision to avoid staff cuts.
“It was the council that approved the budget cut for us,” Birtell said. “That was something the council made clear, that they didn’t want to cut staff. We worked and worked and worked on it. It came down to Lyons.
“Most of my part-time staff are losing hours because we cut hours of operation. For part-time staff, that was a lot of hours,” she continued. “It’s an unfortunate thing, and I would hope in the future you would consider the services we offer and the things that we do for this community.”
The council will reconvene at 7 p.m. Thursday to finalize the budget. It will then be sent for state approval in order to meet the March 17 deadline.
As Gassman sympathized with the frustration, he wondered if it sets a precedent for more service cuts down the road.
“Is there anybody in this community that wants to give up their library for $13?” he said. “Maybe we should sell Eagle Point Park next. Nobody wants those kinds of things, but maybe that’s the next suggestion. I don’t know. I would vote no for those kinds of things.”