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Residents object to Statham's proposed library cuts

POSTED: June 18, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Editor’s Note: In the June 15 issue of the Barrow County News, the headline was incorrect. Statham has not yet voted on the budget; it has only been proposed. Additionally, the proposal to add a city administrator position was discussed but was not calculated into the budget numbers.

 

At Tuesday night’s Statham City Council meeting, employees and patrons of the Statham library voiced their opinions against the city’s proposed cut to the library budget for fiscal year 2015.

In the city’s workshop this past Thursday, council members decided to cut proposed fiscal year 2015 funds for the library from $55,500 to $34,000.

Piedmont Regional Library manager Mary Spencer launched the discussion in protest of the budget cut by saying the library is "devastated" by the proposal.

Spencer said the proposed decrease in funding would mean the termination of two library staff members, and a cut into the hours of the remaining three staff. Additionally, the library hours would be cut in half.

Several library programs would be discontinued, Spencer said, including the Ready to Read story times; the Summer Reading Program for next summer; and on-site reading programs at Statham Elementary School and Statham Helping Hands.

Spencer pointed out that the library’s use has increased since last year, and that with the proposed budget cut the library would not be able to purchase many types of books.

"This budget cut would put us back to the level of service we had seven years ago, at a time when our patrons need our help even more than ever," Spencer said. "I cannot emphasize this enough."

Library patron and Statham resident Annette Wiggs said she knows of many people who don’t have home computers and use the library computers for things such as job searching. She also said the library is beneficial to children.

"There aren’t many programs right here in Statham that keep the kids entertained and learning," Wiggs said. "I see how much joy the children get from coming to the library."

Statham Mayor Robert Bridges said it’s time for Barrow County to "step up" and provide more funding for a library that many non-Statham residents frequent.

The county provided a little less than $8,000 toward the Statham library for FY14, which was its first year furnishing any funds for the library.

Councilman Perry Barton said the City of Statham loves the library, but due to budget constraints is having to make "some horrible cuts."

"We have to make sure we’re getting balanced contribution by the government entity," Barton said. "We are asking for reasonable, fair sharing of the costs."

Barton added that a meeting has already been scheduled between Bridges and the Barrow County Commission to discuss this, and that he encourages library patrons and employees to speak with their representative on the County Commission about their concerns.

 

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