Branch library cut from budget

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Chapel Hill alderwoman on Monday asked Marshall County commissioners to spend money for a library branch in her town's community center.

County budget committeemen should be commended for including funds to open a library in the north end of the county, Alderwoman Marion Joyce said, but she was disappointed that the request was cut from the spending plan considered Monday.

Joyce was the only person to speak during a public hearing conducted half an hour before the monthly meeting of the commission, and she offered a secondary plan.

"We would be pleased to have it open on Saturday mornings," Joyce said. "It would be a plus for Marshall County and Marshall County could tell prospective retailers that we are committed to improving our community."

She conceded that she didn't know what the cost would be for a branch library operating only on Saturday mornings and repeated an offer from the Chapel Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

"We will provide everything except the books and personnel," Joyce said.

Marshall County Memorial Library Director Jan Allen has noted that the price of gasoline might be an obstacle for some readers to drive from Chapel Hill to the library in Lewisburg and back. The roundtrip might be 30 miles, or perhaps the cost of a gallon of gas, or two.

The county has appropriated $245,000 annually for the library on Old Farmington Road since 2006, Allen said in June. To meet the cooperative agreement with Chapel Hill, the county would need to increase the library budget to about $281,000.

"That [additional $36,000] would include Chapel Hill with limited hours, but it would, at least, get them going," Allen said before budget committeemen endorsed the request.

"Since Chapel Hill is providing for the room, the county would be paying for staffing."

Books could be loaned about a month after the county budget is adopted, if the funding is in place, Allen had said.

Joyce held a copy of the county's proposed budget while speaking during the public hearing in the County Courthouse Annex on Monday. She noted that the list of contributions to non-profit organizations includes $15,000 of undesignated funds.

"It could be amended over to the library," Joyce said.

Funding for all non-profit organizations totals $57,656, according to the county spending plan that's the subject of a vote at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 when county commissioners meet again.

Contributions to non-profit organizations are a tiny part of the county's plan to spend somewhat more than $65.5 million through June 30, 2012, but the library was the only topic discussed during the public hearing. Total available funds for the county's fiscal year 2011-12 are $74,778,822, although that includes $36.3 million for schools, nearly $3.6 million for the schools' food service, almost $11 million for the general fund that includes public safety, general administration and of the various fee offices such as register of deeds, trustee, clerks and other government services.