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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PPL: Four Jobs Off The Chopping Block




The suspense was over tonight as the Plattsburgh City Common Council voted to approve additional funds to the Public Library 2012 budget, thus saving four positions.


By a unanimous vote the Plattsburgh City Common Council approved an additional $60,000 to the 2012 Plattsburgh Public Library budget, thus saving four jobs that at one point were in danger of being eliminated.

One could feel the collective sigh of relief. It's been a rough month for all library employees, not only for those whose positions were on the chopping block. The employees work together as a family and what affects one affects all. Also, such cutbacks would have added to the difficulty of an understaffed library running smoothly. PPL has seen a jump in usage due in large part to the bad economy that has forced many people to stretch their budgets by taking advantage of free materials offered by the library.

By having the vote tonight everything is wrapped up, said councilor Tim Carpenter. There had been concern by both employees and patrons that the uncertainty about the four positions wouldn't be resolved until January when the Common Council finalized the city budget. By voting tonight, said Carpenter who also serves as council liaison to the library, the last step was taken to assure that four PPL employees would retain their jobs.

Carpenter has been instrumental in saving the jobs. During the meeting he said he worked with 57 other people and he gave everyone credit for their efforts. But it was Carpenter who took the initiative and came up with an alternative budget plan. Representatives of the local AFSCME union also had an alternative budget proposal but it wasn't favored by the PPL Board of Trustees. Fortunately Carpenter's plan met with approval by the Library Board.

After the meeting Carpenter said that barring the closedown of a major industry in the city, meaning a severe cut in tax revenue, the jobs at PPL should be OK.

Despite the fact it was midpoint in the holiday season, most chairs in the Common Council chambers were filled. Before Carpenter’s plan was considered, Mayor Donald Kasprzak was surprised when he opened the meeting to public comment and none of the library supporters spoke. Sitting in the audience, I felt that people were anxious to hear the news, one way or the other, good or bad. Comments would only prolong the tension.

After the vote Library Board President Roland Lockwood commented to the council that he was glad that everyone worked together and made the compromises needed to keep the four jobs.


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