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Departments seek to add employees

Ann Hokanson, director of Austin Public Library, made her case to the Austin City Council as to why the library needs a children's librarian, a replacement position that is included in the proposed budget (at an estimated $70,000) with a proposed 14 percent city budget increase.

The position was cut in 2009 after a retirement.

Council member Jeff Austin was on the council at the time.

"I think they've taken their hit," Austin said. "I think the need is there to fill the position at this time."

The library has made up some slack with technology, but it still has the fewest staff per size in the region, Hokanson said. While the staff is "very, very efficient," the work load is still there and with a growing population, people keep coming to use the various services of the library.


"We're busy all the time, helping people," Hokanson said.

They are not going to be able to do a very good job without that added position, and they are already doing just an "OK" job, she said.

"It's a Band-Aid solution," Hokanson said. "It worked for awhile. We can't keep doing it."

Street department needs somebody, too

The other staff positions brought into the mix were the two full-time vacant street department employee positions.

One job is being done as temporary work but for an extended period of time with the lowest pay scale and no benefits. That position would become permanent with benefits (at an estimated $70,000) if the budget proposal is approved.

The street department has already cut in places where other cities are just making cuts now, said Jon Erichson, director of public works and city engineer. Austin's department has provided more services to people in a bigger area with fewer people working, he said.

Erichson tried to convey the importance of the services in a city with a growing population and aging infrastructure.


"Everybody in this room uses something from public works every single day," Erichson said. "We're getting older and the needs aren't going down.

"We've been cutting hard."

Austin said that while he doesn't like to see his taxes go up, it's also about looking at the quality of life for citizens in a growing city. He doesn't think the librarian position or street department position will make or break the budget.

"We do have to make tough decisions," Austin said. "It's a matter of priorities."

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