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Councilman: Library, old debts ‘killing’ Milner

By Kay S. Pedrotti In a surprise speech on an issue not on last week’s meeting agenda, the Milner City Council heard councilman Skip Seda say that the Milner Community Library’s costs to the city ‘would, if operated as it is now, bankrupt the city.’ ’The library sounds like it’s making money, but it’s not,’ Seda said. He proceeded to offer figures based on financial reports given by Cheryl Idol, library board treasurer. The figures, he said, ‘are unaudited and are just my math.’ He said he polled several businesses about how much increase a business should expect every year, and the reply was ‘about 10 percent.’ Based on his math, he said, ‘Milner could be paying $422,608 and change’ annually to the library functions and building needs in 10 years, five times the existing property tax base. Taken to 20 years, costs could be $3.9 million, he said. He continued with noting the actual revenue to the library for its services during 2020 was $1,600; Friends of the Library gave $37,000, creating an $11,000 cushion; January through March of 2021 library income was down to $3,508; he said he had been told FOLM could give only $4,000 a year now; Lamar Gives 365 grants could not be automatically expected, but could be $3-5,000. ’No way should the city take ownership of the library. The damage could be mitigated by closing the library, taking out a $780,000 loan, buying the building and using it for other revenue sources. The library is going to bankrupt the town if it continues as a library,’ he said. ‘We need to alert the citizens so people will know what is coming. I know these are unaudited and just my figures, but I would love for somebody to prove me wrong,’ he said. Bill Christopher, library board member, challenged Seda’s outlook by saying, ‘You figured all this as a business ‘“ we are a service, not a business. The regional library board and state requirements are mandatory for the library.’ Seda said also that the library’s dilemma is only part of the reasons why Milner should no longer be a city. There are debts on the non-functioning water tower, designed never to have functioned according to the city’s engineer, and other water and sewer obligations that will run into the millions in another decade, he said. Seda made a motion that the council ‘dissolve the charter’ and stop operating as a city. It died for lack of a second. City administrator Tausha Grose said, ‘Technically, this was not on the agenda ‘“ you could vote to put it on the agenda and then discuss it.’ It was then agreed that whether to have further discussion of Seda’s findings and motion will be done at the council’s next workshop.

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