Letter to the editor
Library, other county furloughs poorly handled
Poor planning and lack of proactive leadership is our new normal. Due to COVID-19 shutdown of tourism, our county court knew there would be a loss of revenue due to no room tax and no lottery money coming into the general fund. So instead of contacting all county departments and asking them to come up with cuts until the end of the budget year on June 30, they waited until they knew there would be a much larger deficit and demanded immediate furloughs from the most essential of our county departments, and now that we all conduct our lives online, the county library.
There has still been no official notice from the county or a press release about these layoffs.
By telephone, Judge Seth Crawford announced to the library staff on Monday, April 27 that they were going to be furloughed. He said there would be furloughs to the fairgrounds and the DA's office. The employees were told it would be discussed at the Tuesday April 28 work session.
He then sent them a letter on April 30 telling them they were furloughed until July 31 and how to apply for unemployment before the money ran out.
Library staff were already preparing detailed plans on how to reopen the building safely when it would be permitted by the state. It needs to be underscored how much activity by the public had increased since the library building had been closed on March 20.
Our library has always provided essential services to the community and now, due to the closure, is experiencing up to a 40% increase in digital resources — access to internet, social services, job seekers, unemployment information, tax information, entertainment, legal research, online storytimes for children and providing a sense of community working together to serve the under served and homeless population.
It is not fair that the Crook County Library bear the greatest burden of the furloughs and that the general public won't even know about it, nor how much work is still going on in our closed public library.
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