Library board delays budget vote

Members of the Altoona Area Public Library’s Board of Trustees discussed the library’s budget for the coming year and approved a plan to save money on trips between libraries in the district.

The board will not vote on the budget until next month, as the library’s executive director, Jennifer Knisely, said she needs to gather more information about new benefits packages offered by the Altoona Area School District.

The library’s management has established a precedent in keeping its benefits offered to full-time library employees in line with those offered by the district, Knisely said.

Board member Dick Hall clarified for the other members that this trend did not come from a board mandate.

“We’ve never done that,” Hall said.

The Altoona Area School District is offering three plans for the coming year, Knisely said, one with a $250 deductible, one with a $500 deductible and one with a $1,500 deductible. Library employees now only have a $250 deductible option.

The budget has also been put on hold for another month because there is a gap that needs to be fixed, Knisely said. Waiting to see what the June bills look like will help determine how much money will need to be pulled from the library’s capital reserve fund.

Hall explained that those funds had been set aside for a case like this.

“But when it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said.

The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Intermediate Unit to help relieve the costs of book deliveries among the local district’s 13 libraries. The Altoona library’s maintenance staff was previously responsible for weekly trips to deliver those books.

With the board’s approval, the IU will now take care of those deliveries at a fixed annual cost of $315 from each library, Knisely said. The IU will use its own employees, she said, and its own vehicles and gasoline. This relieves some concerns library leadership had about potential worker’s compensation and other issues with having drivers on the roads frequently, she said.

The cost to pay the IU for its services was less than the cost to do the deliveries in-house, Knisely said. The memorandum was approved unanimously.

“That’s a great service,” said board President Barbara Kooman.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.