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Milner council agrees it should own library building; sets workshop to work on details

By Walter Geiger The Milner city council discussed at length a proposal from the Milner library board that it take ownership of the city library building at is regular meeting Dec. 14. After deliberations, the council seemed to be in agreement that taking over the building made sense but many details need to be worked out. After the request letter from the library board was read, council member Skip Seda asked why the city would make the move. Councilman George Weldon, who is also on the library board, replied the move would combine services offered. ‘A lot of services are already given to the citizens by the library,’ Weldon said. Seda replied the current set-up was the traditional one for libraries. ‘There is a wall between the city and the library. That wall is a good thing. That is what I thought at first. Why would the city take on that additional liability? I don’t see any reason to change it,’ Seda opined. ’I don’t think it is right for the taxpayers to pay for a library that is owned by a small group of citizens. But, whether it is ours or not, we are on the hook for it if the cost is $500, $5000 or $500,000,’ mayor Andy Marlowe said. ’We take the city’s $15,000 and make up the rest. We would still do that,’ Weldon said, noting the library board would continue to hold fundraisers, etc. ‘It works like it is. I don’t see anything wrong with it,’ Seda countered. City manager Tausha Grose noted the city does the library’s payroll and the library pays back the costs. ’We started the library in the best interests of the community. The city helped a lot. It paid for insurance and helped with SPLOST funds. Now we (board members) are out there cutting the grass. It is the city’s building. It is on city property. It is the city’s library,’ Weldon responded. ‘Two months ago y’all didn’t feel this way. What changed?’ Seda asked. ‘I am tired. I am really tired,’ Weldon replied. ’If we own it and we have to cut the grass, etc., we will have to add an employee. We can’t afford it,’ Grose said. ‘Five people shouldn’t be responsible for a city building. The board is tired,’ Weldon reiterated. There was discussion of insurance and Grose said the Georgia Municipal Association won’t allow the coverage on the city plan because the city does not own the building. Addressing Weldon, Seda said, ‘You are the only old council member still here. Part of our problem in the past is the city council did not ask questions about things like this,’ Seda said. ‘We have had a lot of donations. We have made our budget,’ Weldon replied. Council member Michael Floyd noted Weldon’s statement amounted to intention vs. reality. ‘What happens if you can’t get donations? I would prefer the city owning it. My concern is the cost. When donations go down our taxes will go up,’ Floyd said. ’You’ve got to be an optimist. It is amazing how the citizens support this library,’ Weldon replied. ’We are already obligated to the library. We are just chasing our tails with all these what-ifs. We owe a tremendous gratitude to the people who have done this. It is our library,’ council member Vickie Smith said. ’If we are going to do this, we need a very specific, to-the-letter agreement,’ Grose said. Floyd agreed saying, ‘I think we all agree the city needs to take ownership. But it needs to be well documented.’ Weldon said the city council would still appoint the library board if the deal goes through. ‘The city will provide what money it provides. The board will have to come up with the rest. The board would be responsible for all internal operations,’ he said. After questioning if the library employees would become city employees if the deal is cut, Smith said, ‘We need to encourage the library board’s efforts.’ The council agreed to schedule a workshop meeting on the matter with an attorney present. Grose reported city attorney Scott Mayfield had said he would not work on the issue because he had previously been on the library board and did not want the appearance of a conflict of interest. Mayfield was not present at the meeting. ’We want everybody to be happy and the library to grow as the city grows,’ Weldon concluded. In other action, the council: ’¢Approved routine minutes. ’¢Heard from James Treadwell who is adding on to his family’s home on Locust Street. The project has run too close to the setbacks and Grose could issue no variance because no provision is made in the code for variances. The council promised to work with Treadwell on the problem. There was also mention that Locust Street runs through an old graveyard and there are graves right up next to the pavement. ’¢Heard a police report from chief Michael Bailey. ’¢Approved the first reading of an ordinance on business license fees. Currently the city has a flat fee of $50. The new ordinance raises that to $75 plus additional per-employee charges.

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