Press "Enter" to skip to content

Milner library gets sales tax funds after all

By Kay S. Pedrotti A tie-breaking vote by Mayor Joe Bostwick last week insured that the Milner Library will continue to receive $13,896 annually from city sales tax funds through the end of fiscal year 2019. The special called meeting Jan. 28 was packed with citizens, many of whom had comments on both sides of the question whether to continue library funding in the ‘operations’ phase after construction is completed. At its regular meeting Jan. 28, the council had voted 3-2 to ‘de-fund’ the library by withdrawing the same sales tax revenue amount that was considered ‘construction funding.’ A resolution noted that the mayor and council ‘firmly believe that a library in Milner would be in the best interests of its residents ‘¦ surrounding areas and the public at large.’ In reference to a letter from Julie Walker, state librarian and vice chancellor for libraries, the resolution also stated that the city wished to ‘comply with the terms and conditions contained in the letter.’ The letter was dated Dec. 20, 2018. Walker’s letter made clear that ‘local support for the current year shall be equal to or more than the preceding year’ and that ‘local support’ is defined as funding ‘provided to library system boards of trustees by local government agencies with taxing authority.’ Walker also stated that non-compliance with that requirement or any others set out by the library system ‘would make the (Milner) library system ineligible to receive state aid,’ such as funds for state-reimbursed library jobs, system services grants or any materials funding ‘that becomes available from state allocations.’ Bostwick’s vote broke a 2-2 tie between Roger Samples and Tracy Alford voting yes to continue funding, and Betty Wilson and Fred Stephens voting no, with councilman George Weldon abstaining because he also serves on the library board. The mayor was obviously emotional about the decision, but all council members assured him they would support him whichever way he voted. Wilson and Stephens continually stressed that complete information on income sources and expenses for the library had been lacking for many years, resulting in an amendment to Samples’ motion to approve the resolution with a condition that monthly reports on financials and operations be presented to the council. Citizen comments: Uppermost in the comments made by those opposed to further funding was the fear that Milner property taxes would have to be raised, now or in the future, just for the library. Other concerns were voiced about records-keeping and information that may not have been provided to the council. ‘It appears at this point that improprieties were performed,’ said Bobby Brantly, a resident of Liberty Hill Street, ‘and an investigation is needed.’ Rita Williams, also a Liberty Hill Street resident, said emphatically that she did not want even a small part of her taxes to go to the library. Supporters pointed out to the council that they had a commitment to the library as a ‘community centerpiece’ because of having included the project in its comprehensive plans for several years. ‘Put aside personal opinions and do the right thing,’ said Dr. Vickie Smith, whose home is on Main Street. Jeannie Britt, speaking on behalf of her mother Mrs. Frances Manry, who served for many years on the city council, said: ‘When my mother ran for council, she had two dreams ‘“ a veterans’ memorial and a library. The memorial is there, but when I told her what was going on with the library, all she could do was shake her head and look sad.’ Allen Barbee said living in the city limits means that the council ‘should provide more than just water and sewerage’ and offer ‘cultural opportunities as well.’ ’The city needs to understand,’ Barbee added, ‘that when it provides what matters to the people, others will come here, and we will have a better future. We have to grow or die.’ Robert Hamilton, a new resident, said maybe the city could seek financial help with the library from the county. Councilman Samples commented that questions ‘asked six years ago ‘¦ were answered with blank stares or side-steps. We (the council) were told we did not need to know (what the board did).’ Samples said he would not risk losing all access to state funds, or a possible loss of the city charter, by taking away funding that is a part of the agreement with the state. ’It’s already in our budget that we approved for this fiscal year,’ said council member Tracy Alford. ‘It’s a done deal.’ City clerk Sandra Miles confirmed the amount has been included in the budget through fiscal year 2019. Councilman George Weldon said ‘the city cannot even make financial commitments beyond a year.’

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021