Last night the Council discussed and took action on two significant items.
The first was regarding library services.
The Clayton library is staffed by a mix of County staff for certain library services, and a host of volunteers for other activities. Due to agreements between the City and the County, and the County's MOU with the union that the county library staff belong to, generally the volunteers at the library are not able to perform duties that would otherwise be performed by County staff.
Historically, Clayton received at no cost an amount of County supported library staff that allowed the library to be open 35 hours per week. The City separately engaged the county to expand that amount of time to 44 hours per week, or an additional 9 hours per week and paid approximately $13K/year for this. During various pandemic related closures, library hours were reduced and modified, but eventually was set at 40 hours per week.
Going forward and beginning in July 2021, the County has informed the City that the previous arrangement will not continue. In its place, the County has stated they will now provide at no cost to the City, an amount of County supported library staff that will allow the library to be open 40 hours per week. The schedule will differ from the previous schedule. We have the option to purchase additional hours, but at a closer to market rate rather than the subsidized rate we were previously paying. To increase the hours open by six to a total of 46 hours per week, the incremental cost to the city would be approximately $59K.
This represents a significant increase and one that our city cannot afford within our current budget. To cover this cost would require an increase in revenue (taxes, fees, etc.), a reduction in services, or some combination. The Council decided to accept the 40 hour allotment. If in the future the funds become available either through the city, or through significant donation, we could update our agreement with the County and fund additional hours.
The hours that would be available are as follows: