Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jacksonville Public Library has spent $93k on travel since 2008

No, the Jacksonville Public Library does not have a branch in Chicago. That, however, did not stop the library from spending nearly $20,000 to send 17 employees there in 2009.

That travel - among the $93,000 in trips library staffers have taken since 2008 - was for an American Library Association Conference, which included "over 300 educational programs covering a wide variety of hot topics," according to the association's website.

By comparison, that is more than the $85,279 that the City Council and the Mayor's Office spent on travel combined over that same time frame, records indicate.

Gubbin has attended several international meetings in her five years with the library, at a cost of about $15,000, to places like Milan, Italy; Seoul, South Korea; and Durban, South Africa.

In response to tightening budgets, the board this year slashed what it spends on travel: budget is now $11,022, down from $48,663 last year and $33,265 in 2008, according to travel records.

This year, the City Council and the Mayor's Office have travel budgets of $53,472 and $15,000, respectively.

Over the past three years, City Council has spent far less than what it had budgeted for travel. This year, it spent $8,792 of its allotted travel budget; in 2009, $13,045 of a budgeted $50,661; and in 2008, $10,362 of $51,064. Over the past three years, the Mayor's Office's travel spending has been in line with what was budgeted.

Neither of those travel budgets is facing cuts in the 2010-2011 proposed budget.

Gubbin, who has a $139,233-a-year salary, has been the system's most frequent flyer. During her five-year tenure as director, her itinerary has included seven taxpayer-funded international trips. The world travel is part of Gubbin's affiliation with the International Federation of Library Associations.

She said it helps her bring new ideas to the Jacksonville system.

Since 2005, the amount of discretionary income available for things like building upkeep has dropped by $1 million, and the library board recently cut hours at five library branches to 20 hours per week at a savings of $434,893.

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