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County Museum of Art to Lay Off Six More Workers : Funding: Employees are paid by the privately funded Museum Associates. Museum director says it won't affect operations.

March 17, 1993|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | TIMES ART WRITER

Two months after laying off three county-paid employees and losing 20 others through transfers and frozen vacancies, the County Museum of Art has announced plans to lay off six employees who are paid by the privately funded Museum Associates.

"We have to adjust the institution on both the private side and the county side to the limits of our present resources," said museum director Michael Shapiro. Thirty-four positions funded by the Museum Associates that have been vacated in the past year have been temporarily frozen. Those staff reductions and the layoffs are required to offset a $1.6-million reduction in revenue--$1.4 million of it from a loss of museum membership funds. The membership is currently 75,000, and had been targeted at 80,000 for the 1992-93 fiscal year. Individual annual memberships range from $55 to $5,000.

The latest layoffs include two employees from the museum's operations department and one employee in each of four other departments: costumes and textiles, the research library, protective services and management information systems. The museum declined to release names of employees who on Tuesday were to be notified of their terminations.

The museum has traditionally received about half its funding from the county and the rest from private sources, including memberships, donations and revenues from bookshop sales. A county-wide budget crisis earlier this year reduced the county's share of the museum budget from $18 million to $16 million. As a result, the museum's operating budget for 1992-93 fell to$29 million from an all-time high of $31 million in 1991-92.

The museum currently has 110 county employees and 190 privately paid employees, including those targeted for layoff.

"We need to keep these changes in context," Shapiro said. "In human terms the loss of employees is unfortunate, but it is a relatively small percentage. The museum will continue to have about 300 full-time employees who are able to carry forth our programs. The changes are largely among support personnel whose activities can be carried out by other people in the institution. We don't expect any perceptible change in the museum's programs."

Psychologist Kevin Flynn, former director of the County Employees Assistance Foundation, has been retained by the museum to counsel laid-off employees.

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