One month after the Hernando County library system was honored as the best in state, several of the key employees who made that possible have moved on.
In all, 11 employees have left in the last year.
Outreach Services Librarian Amelia Anderson and Systems Librarian Sean McGarvey were two of the bigger names to resign and both occurred at the same time two weeks ago.
Others who have left are Library Experience Coordinator Paul Alford, Library Services Supervisor Amanda Rochefort, Library Services Assistant Jasmine Hudson, four library information specialists and two paid student library pages.
Library Services Manager Adam Brooks said he believes most left for better paying jobs with more career opportunities.
It is difficult to say how much of the turnover resulted from the uncertainty over funding.
“I can’t really say,” he said. “I’m sure that the uncertainty is there for staff. I don’t see how there could not be. But we try to keep it as positive as possible.”
Anderson said in her resignation letter she left for a position in Tampa with increased responsibilities and would be closer to family and friends.
McGarvey said he was offered a superior position in Pasco County and “cannot pass up the chance.”
Brooks said the two library pages are naturally revolving slots because high schoolers move on. Two others retired. All but Anderson and McGarvey’s positions have already been refilled and their slots are being advertised.
The Hernando County library system is staring down a $2 million budget hole and commissioners are considering creating a Multiple Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) that would bring in money and avoid branch closures or loss of services.
That would translate to a quarter of a mil increase to taxpayers to continue funding libraries at their current staff levels, County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said recently.
Nicholson said this would give libraries a steady funding source without having a debate every year about general fund deficits.
The public hearing, set for April 23, will also encompass a general discussion on the MSTU process.
County Commissioner Dave Russell said the entire board is committed to maintaining the current level of service at area libraries. The libraries employ about 40 people.
However, Russell said it would make more sense to do so through the normal general fund method and not creating a MSTU?
“Why create a brand new tax?” Russell asked. “I don’t see the need for it.”
Brooks is confident commissioners will come up with a funding solution, even if it means taking money out of the general fund.
“We’ll continue and they’ll figure out a funding source,” Brooks said.
Libraries ranked high on the list of priorities for residents, who indicated such at recent town hall meetings and via an online survey.
Last month, the Florida Library Association said Hernando County “demonstrated outstanding service to the community it serves.”
The system was recognized for its computer classes, instructional programs, offerings for children, Kindle lending program, community partnerships, cost-saving strategies and marketing efforts.”
Brooks said Anderson and McGarvey were key staffers and played an integral role in getting the state library of the year designation.
“Unfortunately for us, their talents and expertise were also valuable in helping them obtain promotional opportunities in other library systems around the state,” he said. “While we always hate to lose good people, we look forward to finding new talent for these positions and moving forward with our goals and priorities for the Hernando County Public Library System.”