The City of San Jose is facing a $116 million deficit. What does this mean? It equals 878 jobs.
A local television station, CBS 5, did a story on the impact on children and families of losing libraries and community centers. These two screenshots from their story really sum up how horrible this is.
Libraries are going to be open only 3 days per week. We are going to lose 110 jobs in the library. We will have reduced money for collections, for support services like web & IT, on and on. More or less, as things stand it looks like we will be barely treading water once all the cuts take effect.
For the Parks department, they’re looking at 21 community centers closing and losing 117 jobs.
About half of our budget shortfall is a huge increase in the amount of money the city has to put into pension pay-outs (because of investment value decreases). I know every pension fund is facing that, but to me San Jose’s case seems rather extreme. So, to pay off people who retired we are firing people who work there now? That makes me so sad. The mayor says that if all remaining employees take a 10% pay cut (permanent, not one-time), then the city could potentially keep 2/3 of the jobs we’re looking at losing. So far the unions have said no.
The City of San Jose is in a bad space. We’re not going to survive this very easily or cleanly. I worry, whether I have a job there in four months or not. Whoever is left is going to be doing less, with less. As with almost all libraries right now, in a few months the survivor guilt and stress of greater responsibilities and greater demands are going to start taking hold. It’s crucial that we address staff morale, dealing with layoffs (both for those laid off and those left behind), counseling services, stress relief at work, and being realistic about what we can achieve.
More than anything, I hope that all libraries will follow the example of our Director, Jane Light. She has been honest with the staff from day one about how bad the cuts are. No sugar coating it, no hoarding information, no sealing admin off behind closed doors. There have been open meetings with staff on an ongoing basis, constant emails, and guidance for managers. Honesty is definitely the best policy when bad news is the order of the day, whether it’s the easy path or not.