Citing budgetary matters, the Pines and Plains Library District Board of Trustees voted 3-1 on Jan. 28 to eliminate the full-time director position, meaning Kari May's job will end Feb. 13.
The proposed change had been the subject of a special meeting on Jan. 12, and the board followed up with the vote at its regularly scheduled meeting.
Susan St. Vincent, board president, said the board convened the special meeting to address budgetary concerns that came to a head in December.
“At that December meeting,” she said, “it was brought to the board's attention that during the financial broker's effort to refinance the Elizabeth Branch building loan, there was only one bank interested in taking on the risk of this loan.”
Financial projections point to continued deficits within the district through 2021. The board cited a number of factors — including declining property tax revenues and disappointing fundraising results — tied to the district's continuing deficit, a deficit that has forced it to rely on proceeds from the sale of the old Elizabeth Library and the Carlson Building to supplement revenues.
“We are choosing to be proactive in this situation and not waiting until it is a `crisis' beyond recovery,” St. Vincent said. “The board is committed to continuing servicing our patrons at the present level; this is a priority.”
In the past, the board has implemented other efforts to ease the strains on the district's budget such as a reduction of branch service hours and employee working hours. St. Vincent anticipates that the refinancing of the Elizabeth Branch building and the elimination of the full-time director position will eliminate the requirement for additional cuts in the near future.
May has been the public face for the district since she moved to Elizabeth to accept the job as the district's full-time director in 2008.
During her tenure, May oversaw two upgrades to the library district's cataloguing systems, the relocation of the Elizabeth Library from East Main Street to its present location on Beverly Street, and the rebranding of the district from the Elbert County Library District to the Pines and Plains Library District last fall.
May also held the position as the president of the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL), serving as elected president, president and past president under the organizations three-year leadership structure. CAL membership is made up of librarians, library employees and other institutions that support intellectual freedom, offers professional development, and provide the opportunity to network with librarians and civic leaders.
In a news release issued after the meeting, the board expressed its appreciation for May's service to the district and wished her good luck in her future endeavors.
“Ms. May has brought a high level of professionalism to the libraries in our district and has, in turn, motivated the staff to develop their skills and programs,” the board said in the statement.
May, who also wrote a twice-monthly column for the Elbert County News about books and the library, is not sure what she will do next, but is keeping her options open. Any new position will likely involve a move out of state.
“I love what I do at the library,” May said, “so I'm looking to build on the skills I developed here.”
Following May's departure, Tim Miller, director and manager of the Simla Library, will step in as part-time director. The board has tasked Miller to focus on “creating a stable and optimistic financial future for the district.”
The Pines and Plains Library District is an independent taxing district that oversees libraries in, Elbert, Elizabeth, Kiowa and Simla.