A jaw-dropping nugget was revealed at the end of a two hour, 12 minute Milner city council meeting full of bickering and posturing Monday night. The Milner library building, for which the city of Milner and its residents are on the hook for three quarters of a million dollars, is not insured.UPDATE: As a result of this story, the Milner Library is now insured.The city is on the hook for the money if the building ceases to function as a library. Bill Christopher, Richard Smith and councilman George Weldon had mounted a defense of the library after Rita Williams called for a referendum to allow Milner residents to vote to not have their taxes raised to keep the library open.Smith noted how Weldon and his wife and spent years selling books for a quarter to help fund library construction and how George Weldon worked in the yard there in the heat. Weldon said Milner has fibre internet in the city limits solely because it was run to meet the library’s needs.Christopher said the library has strong financial support with gifts coming in all the time. “The library may fail for a lack of support but it won’t fail for a lack of money,” he added. Earlier in the meeting, the council was told the library serves about 12 people per day at present with limited hours due to COVID-19.Williams asked what would happen if the citizens voted not to support the library with their tax dollars.”The state will take the building back and we will have to pay the $780,000,” Weldon countered.New mayor Andy Marlowe then asked Christopher if there was insurance on the library building. “No, but there will be,” he replied.There was no indication of why the building is not insured or how long it had not been insured.Williams and councilman Skip Seda also got into a heated exchange after the council voted to reinstate the planning commission Marlowe dissolved at the council’s July meeting. “The city will take no guidance from this committee,” Marlowe insisted. Seda also asked Marlowe to reimburse the city the $55 he refunded Jody and Tracey Alford for a fee they had paid to hang a graduation sign in front of their business. Marlowe refused and Seda and the council vowed to take legal action.Williams waded in, calling Seda disrespectful. “Why are you so intent on bashing our newly-elected mayor? There is so much corruption with this council, it is like a mini Washington, D.C. People who have lived here a long time are saying they would move out if they could afford it,” she said.Seda harshly denied being disrespectful. “Our job is to follow the city code,” he said loudly.”That’s it right there. It’s your attitude. It’s your tone and your attitude. You have a very arrogant attitude,” Williams retorted.All this transpired before the backdrop of an ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s office and GBI agents into the council and a forensic audit of the city’s finances, also being currently conducted by the GBI.For more on this story, see the 8.25.20 print edition of The Herald Gazette.
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