Hawkins library budget cut could jeopardize state funding

Jeff Bobo • Aug 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Recently appointed Hawkins County Library Director Kristin White is warning county and municipal officials that the consequences of a proposed $9,400 library funding cut will actually cost the system more than 10 times that amount in state funding and materials.

The Hawkins County Commission will consider approval of its 2008-09 fiscal year budget Monday which will be absent a property tax increase for the first time in five years, but also only leaves a spending surplus of about $300,000.

To achieve a budget with no tax increase, members of the Budget Committee have proposed an across-the- board 10 percent cut in all county contributions, including the library system which will be hit to the tune of $9,400.

White told the Church Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this week that the funding cut will constitute a violation of the county’s Maintenance of Effort agreement with the state regarding the library.

White has been meeting with town officials in Rogersville, Surgoinsville and Church Hill where the system has libraries, informing them of the consequences of the county cuts and asking them to encourage county commissioners to eliminate the cut.

White said she also plans to appeal to the County Commission Monday prior to the budget vote.

According to the county’s Maintenance of Effort Agreement regarding the library system, “the local library board is required to receive and expend locally appropriated funds at a level not less than the amount appropriated and expended the previous year.”

If this agreement is not upheld by the county or cities, the Hawkins County Library System would lose funding and services from the Nolichucky Regional Library System and the state, including approximately 40 percent of its collection, or 21,095 books, videos and other items.

That includes 9,238 items from the library in Rogersville, or 39 percent of its collection; 8,904 items from the Church Hill collection, or 42 percent; and 3,531 items from Surgoinsville’s collection, or 44 percent. Those items include books, videos, DVDs, and audio materials.

The Hawkins County Library System would also lose its yearly state allocation of approximately $11,203 for purchase of books and other library materials. It would also no longer be eligible to select materials from the Regional Library System.

The overall loss in materials and access to materials is estimated at $98,843.

“Any item purchased through the (Nolichucky) regional money would be removed from the three libraries,” said White, who took over as Hawkins County’s library director last month. “They would come, back a van up to the doors basically, and take away our materials. This is through the Secretary of State, and it has happened before in this region in Cocke County.

“Then Cocke County thought about it, came through with the funds, and the region brought the books back.”

White said that all she can do is inform city and county officials and the public about what’s going to happen under the current budget proposal, and hope that the commission decides not to cut her funding.

“We here at the library understand that times are tough and this is a poor county, but the county is growing and the number of people who use the libraries and rely on the libraries for various services is growing,” White said.

“We would urge the public to contact their county commissioners to help support the library and let them know how important these services are to the residents of Hawkins County.”

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