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Statham proposes deep cut to library funding

Council members want county to fund more of library

POSTED: June 15, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Statham’s updated $2.48 million budget proposal now includes a $21,500 cut to the initially proposed library funds.

After discovering a $159,000 shortage in the proposed budget for the upcoming year, Statham has reworked the budget to fix the issue.

The new budget projects a total of $1.22 million in general fund revenue and $1.15 million in general fund expenditures. This left a total of $81,616 in projected revenue for fiscal year 2015, which was decreased to $4,616 after allotting $77,000 to hire a city administrator.

These numbers include the $21,500 cut to the library funds.

In the original budget proposal, the library was allotted $55,500. After Thursday night’s budget workshop, that amount has been decreased to $34,000.

Barrow County gave $7,963 out of the $61,827 which funded the library for fiscal year 2014, while Statham City provided $45,899. The Board of Education and a book grant from the State of Georgia provided the remaining funds.

Statham Chief of Police Steve Martin said this is the first year the county put any funds toward the Statham library. He added that, from a 10-day survey conducted on patrons of the library, 40 percent of them were Statham residents and 60 percent were non-city residents.

Mayor of Statham Robert Bridges said Barrow County needs to provide more funding for the library.

"The county has not been putting very much into the library (budget)," Bridges said. "Now is the time for the county to step up."

Councilman Perry Barton agreed.

"The county funds things, but it’s always Winder," Barton said. "They need to stop thinking ‘Winder-Barrow’ and start thinking ‘Barrow County.’"

Director of the Piedmont Regional Library Beth McIntyre said hopes Statham officials reconsider their plan to reduce the budget. She said that the cuts could lead to cutting hours and laying off employees at a library that’s stretched to the limit.

"The library has always enjoyed a good relationship with the City of Statham," she said in an email. "This proposed drastic cut is surprising. Statham library patrons, as public library patrons everywhere, use their library in many more ways than in the past."

Some city leaders said they would find a way to keep the library open if county funding is not enough.

Additionally, the Statham City Council decided Thursday night to begin the process of hiring a city administrator in time to assist with the budget for FY 2016. The FY ’15 budget proposal includes a $77,000 allotment toward that initiative.

"(A city administrator) would be able to handle some of the challenges we’re going through right now," Barton said. "We need a professional manager to identify cost-cutting, revenue-generating improvements."

Councilman David Huth said the position would pay for itself.

"We would save more money than the salary would cost us," Huth said. "We are overdue for a city administrator."

The agreed-upon $77,000 for this position includes a base salary of $60,000 and $17,000 for travel, training and health insurance.

City Attorney Thomas Mitchell said the city administrator would need to be hired by Nov. 1 if he or she is going to assist with the FY ’16 budget.

Other budget cuts included the removal of a proposed $26,000 for a new position in the street department, as well as refraining from hiring a crossing guard for $24,000.

-Stanley Dunlap contributed to this report



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