CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Public Library is battening down to make a slew of cuts to its system, in the wake of the failure in the polls of a proposed property tax to benefit the libraries.
"We expect the public to become upset as the results of the efforts to deal with the decrease in funding become apparent," Mike Albert, president of the library system's Board of Directors, said Tuesday at the board's monthly meeting. "We will preserve as much of the system as possible and as is fair, but much and many of our current operations are going to be cut."
Foremost among the proposed cost-cutting measures are closures of some of the library's nine branch locations, and a reduction in staff.
The main library branch, in downtown Charleston, will remain intact, if with a reduction in services. It remains to be seen which branch locations will be affected.
In Saturday's special election, in which the proposed excess levy to benefit the county's school and library systems was defeated by a whopping 75 percent, only 10 of the county's 165 precincts swung in the favor of libraries and schools.
All of those precincts were within Charleston's city limits: four in South Hills, three on the East End, and one in the Edgewood area of the West Side.
Everywhere else, voters soundly rejected the proposed tax, an additional excess levy that would have generated $24 million for the county's school and library systems the first year it took effect, in 2014.
In the wake of its failure, the school system is preparing to make cuts to avoid running into a projected $2 million deficit in 2014. The situation at the library is more dire: they need to make up for the loss of 40 percent of their funding -- about $3 million -- caused by a state Supreme Court decision.