FARMINGTON — Today, the Farmington Public Library's staff is nearly 25 percent smaller than it was in fiscal year 2008-2009.

Karen McPheeters, the library's director, calls it the domino effect.

At least 9,000 fewer people visited the library in an average month from fiscal year 2009-2010 to 2012-2013, according to library documents. During that same time period, circulation dropped by 6,480, and 1,753 fewer people each month attended the library's author programs and summer readings.

And, in fiscal year 2009-2010, workforce cuts hit the library.

"It's a little domino effect," McPheeters said.

The nation's financial crisis stripped away 22 percent of Farmington's tax revenue in fiscal years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, said Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes. The city's fiscal year cycles runs from July 1 to June 30.

To compensate for the loss in tax revenue, the city whittled away full-time employees, Mayes said. Today, the city employs 565 people. That's 8 percent fewer employees than in fiscal year 2008-2009, which amounts to 48 people.

The city did that through attribution. There were no layoffs. Instead, when employees retired or moved on, their jobs weren't filled.

That move saved the city about $14.8 million over the last six fiscal years, Mayes said.

The cuts ran across most general fund departments, according to a document provided by Mayes. The cuts ranged from community development, which lost 3 percent of its workforce, to human resources, which lost 25 percent. The police department took a 3.4 percent hit, though Mayes added that administration employees and record technicians accounted for those reductions, not certified police officers or firefighters.

The library lost 24 percent of its workforce over the last six fiscal years, according to the document.

Patrons enter the Farmington Public Library on Saturday.
Patrons enter the Farmington Public Library on Saturday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

Today, McPheeters said the library is operating with six fewer full-time staff members. It compensates by padding its workforce with about 80 percent part-time employees, she said.

The financial crisis also hit the library's budget, she said. Since fiscal year 2008-2009, the library has operated with less than $473,807 in its total budget, according to library documents.

Because of staff and financial cuts, the library gradually reduced its building maintenance, program budget, reserves of magazines, books and DVDs, and hours, McPheeters said. Since Labor Day, the library is open five fewer hours a week.

"It's just making choices, making good choices," McPheeters said. "Isn't that what everybody does? Isn't that what you do with your budget?"

The city has streamlined its operations over the past several years, too, Mayes said.

The city once ran its jail with 18 employees, but opted to close its jail and use the one at the San Juan County Adult Detention, Mayes said. That saved the city $1.2 million, Mayes said.

The city also closed its switchboard department, which was open every day and night, he said. To maintain the service, the city channeled the night calls through the San Juan County Communications Authority, Mayes said.

Another cost-cutting measure came when the city eliminated its print shop and contracted with private printing companies, he said.

Mayes said the financial crisis also gave the city a chance to scrutinize the superfluous functions of its government and departments. And that, Mayes said, is the goal of government: to provide police, road maintenance, firefighters and other services while using as few tax dollars as possible.

"That's what I mean when I talk about reorganizing and streamlining," he said. "(The library has) done a fantastic job of being good stewards of taxpayer money."

Despite the hits it has taken, the library now operates more efficiently, he said. According to library documents, the library's expenditures are $588,525 less now than they were in fiscal year 2008-2009.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.