GAINESVILLE - The Hall County Library Board Tuesday night meeting in called session voted to adopt a 20 percent cut in funding because of the $11.5-million deficit in the Hall County budget.
Library system Director Adrian Mixson told the board after recommending the cut that he needed their guidance and they gave it to him with a 5-2 vote.
"I still feel we're looking at this 20 percent cut," Mixson said. "The budget I sent you reflects a 20 percent reduction; we're looking at 21 part timers and three full timers, that's a significant part of our work force, we're at a point now where we're dealing with people."
One of the full time employees is a retiree; Mixson said the cut reduces the system employee level from 70 down to 45.
Mixson told board members if the county passes its bare bones budget with no tax increase county employees have an extra month before the cuts hit according to Finance Director Lisa Johnsa.
"She is going to let us continue another month with our current employees until whatever the county decides as far as local revenue is and is finalized," Mixson said. "We really don't have to face the difficult issue of laying off people until July."
Mixson said the cut means the Clermont and East Hall Library would close, leaving the county with only two full time libraries, the main branch in Gainesville, and Spout Springs Library in Flowery Branch, open Monday through Saturday. Hours were set at Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Blackshear Place and Murrayville Library would operate on reduced hours, on Monday and Thursday from 12 noon until 8 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 noon until 6 p.m. No libraries will be open on Sundays.
Depending on what happens when the Hall County Commission adopts the budget June 30th, and if the library system sustains a smaller cut, Mixson said there is a possibility the East Hall branch could stay open, operating on reduced hours. Based on that board Member Harriet Taylor made the motion to adopt the cut after nearly an hour and a half of discussion.
East Hall manager Cathy Evans told the Board she hopes East Hall might stay open.
"Our employees are very dedicated and they work hard and they really care about what they're doing," she said.
Blackshear Place worker Lara Wrightson said she is relieved her library will stay open, even with reduced hours.
"I think there's going to be a lot of relief from the local community," she said. "We're glad to still be there at least a little bit."
Clermont board member Sandra Cantrell cast a no vote saying it's sad when you have to close any library.
"It's just a sad day when any library is closed," Cantrell said. "It's sad that there are tax payers in the northern end of the county but it does not appear that the population numbers are enough to justify the means."