LSSI Budget Details Revealed

budgetSteve Monaghan, County CIO, emailed me the LSSI budget details yesterday, in the form of this document titled “LSSI Cost Proposal, Nevada County Library Operations.”

I had hoped that by studying these cost details, we would be able to quickly determine the plausibility of LSSI’s promise to operate the Nevada County Library system for 7% under the current budget.

Unfortunately, such a determination is much less straightforward than I had hoped.

As Steve rightfully pointed out in his email to me:

“LSSI’s proposal is a portion of the overall library budget, and you need to know what to replace it for, and what to keep in to see the larger budget ramifications. Third, the proposal was based on our current budget of $2.45M. Our new revenue projection is $2M. Thus adjustments (services/hours/locations) have to be made to get an apples-to-apples comparison to the cost cutting scenarios we are putting together for in-house library services (budget/hours/locations), else it is meaningless as we don’t have $2.45M to spend on the proposal as quoted.”

So, I made an attempt to analyze “merely” the “Salaries and Benefits” (compensation) portion of the budget, as it is termed in the county’s budget documents.

Because I’ve been suspecting that LSSI’s main strategy would likely be to reduce by restructuring the most persistently growing and intractable portion of our current library budget (compensation), I’ve been staring at LSSI’s “Staffing” cost projections, and compared their total for the first year ($1,443,529) with the line item for “Salaries and Benefits” ($1,769,445) on page 3 of Mary Ann Trygg’s library budget figures, here:

I’m guessing that the difference — $325,916 (about 15% of the $2.45million assumption) — represents a significant part of LSSI’s promised savings, even after factoring out the County Librarian’s compensation and other presumably lesser costs excluded from LSSI’s budget.

I read a comment by a librarian working in the Jackson County Oregon Library System after its management was outsourced to LSSI. She said, “I no longer have a retirement program.” I don’t know what that means, unless she formerly had a pension, which LSSI succeeded in restructuring to something like a 401K. Many people probably can’t afford the matching contribution, no matter how low it is.

It’s this kind of issue, which is still opaque in the public discussion, that is likely to arouse a lot passion.

Such restructuring details, if they exist, are nowhere stated in LSSI’s proposal, that I have been able to find.

Take a look at LSSI’s budget document and see if can you can make sense of it.

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One Response to “LSSI Budget Details Revealed”
  1. marianna greenberg says:

    CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) would be gone with LSSI. I do not know what the county costs for CalPERS are, and what numbers represent these costs in the budget, but when I talked to Frank Pezzanite, CEO of LSSI, about this pension loss to our library staff, he countered with: At least they still have a job in this economy. And he did mention that they replace this with a 401K, and contribute 10%.
    I talked to a woman on the library staff of an LSSI run library (not the one you mention above) who worked at the library before and after LSSI took over, and she said she lost her pension plan. And she talked about other losses, not only financial ones.
    This is to the best of my knowledge and recollection. Perhaps someone from the library staff, present or retired could make a comment and clarify further.
    But since library staff will no longer be county employees, but LSSI employees, I would imagine LSSI is able to run our library with regards to staff any way they please. It is amazing that the county will place conditions on LSSI, but none regarding the staff.

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