Troy library will stay closed on Saturdays

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 5, 2011


The Troy Public Library will stay closed on Saturdays after the Troy City Council approved a budget to run the facility for $2.9 million for three years.

The cost to service and maintain the library’s computers, $3,300 per year per computer, raised questions on the council, which approved the budget 6-1 Sept. 26. Councilman Martin Howrylak opposed the approval and suggested postponing the vote for two weeks, which failed in a 5-2 vote. Councilman Wade Fleming also supported the postponement.

“The current budget, I’m not comfortable with,” Howrylak said. “I’d like to see it open seven days in the future,” Howrylak said. “I’m concerned with properly matching the cost to the charge,” he said, speaking of the way the cost of computers was calculated. “Every $50,000 or $100,000 piece adds up.”

Gert Paraskevin, information technology director for the city of Troy, told the council that the cost of maintaining and servicing the library’s computers was computed by dividing the cost of services the IT department provides to all departments throughout the city — such as maintaining networks and email systems, application support, custom programming and interfacing, and providing spam filters — by the number of computers citywide, times the number of computers in the library, 104, to arrive at the $3,300-per-computer cost. Of those 104 computers, 80 are for use by the public.

Thomas Darling, the consultant the city hired to assist with financials, said that’s standard practice.

“I would love to be open Saturdays,” Library Director Cathleen Russ said to the council. “We simply don’t have the funds.”

She said that the approved budget funds six full-time positions. In 2007, there were 18 full-time library employees funded in a $5.2 million budget.

The approved 2011-2012-budget includes 50 part-time positions at the library.

Troy City Manager John Szerlag said the 0.7-mill dedicated tax voters approved in August will raise just under $3 million in its first year, and less in subsequent years, due to still-declining property values.

“This is a compromise. We understood what 0.7 mills would do,” Mayor Pro Tem Mary Kerwin said. She noted that a number of libraries in the area at which Troy library cardholders have privileges are open on Saturdays, but very few on Sundays.

“Sunday is nearly uniquely Troy’s,” Kerwin added.

Mayor Louise Schilling said that issues could be addressed with budget amendments without a postponement.

“I think it’s a realistic budget,” she said. “At the roundtable discussions, seven days did not come up.”