KINGSPORT - Free of charge.
At least when it comes to library cards and the disposal of furniture and appliances in the Model City.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a resolution Tuesday night amending the city's schedule of fees and charges dealing with the Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport Senior Center and the city's Solid Waste Division.
Two of the major changes dealt with eliminating the library card fee for non-city residents and the fee for picking up old furniture and appliances from the side of the curb.
These changes have come about as part of an across-the-board look city staff have been taking at Kingsport's schedule of fees and charges. A fee committee of city staff has been working since last fall to see whether the fees should be raised, lowered or left alone.
Kingsport has not had any major changes to its fees in eight years.
In December, the BMA voted to increase certain fees in the Building Department and raise court costs to $50. Earlier this month, city leaders raised rental fees at the Civic Auditorium, Allandale Mansion and the Kingsport Renaissance Center.
One of the more significant changes this time around to the fee schedule deals with the elimination of the $20 library card fee for non-city residents.
Library Director Helen Whittaker said the decision was made to eliminate the fee in order to bring the library more in line with the other libraries in the region.
"We're part of the (Watauga Regional Library) consortium with six county libraries and nine library systems. We're the only library in that consortium that charges for non-resident cards," Whittaker said. "The consortium is going to get bigger with ETSU, Northeast State and Bristol (this year) so we're trying to streamline some of the things we do as a group to make it easier."
Besides, Whittaker said, people can get around the card fee now by requesting books from the library.
"If they want to check out our books but don't want to pay the fee, the (consortium) courier will take our books to Johnson City or Sullivan County," Whittaker said. "If we don't charge for it, they'll have a card and they'll come downtown."
Which is something Whittaker said could ultimately help with the revitalization of downtown Kingsport.
"We have over 600 people a day come into the library. That's a big draw for downtown," she said. "If we have more people with cards coming downtown, rather than the courier taking the book to Sullivan County, why not have that person come to the library?"
Another big change to library fees involves the maximum overdue fine for DVDs and VCR tapes going from $20 to $10. Whittaker said the library is losing a lot of DVDs and believes the high overdue fine is discouraging people from returning the videos.
"If you have a maximum overdue fine on a DVD of $10, you come in, bring it back and pay the fine. Why not say you lost it, keep it and pay the $20 fine which is the cost of (the DVD)?" Whittaker said. "We're having a lot of people who are keeping (the DVDs) and not bringing them back.
"We think the high fee is discouraging them from returning the DVD. Enough (have gone missing) so that the staff knows it's a problem."
The $10 maximum fine would not replace a stolen or missing DVD or VCR tape. However, Whittaker said none of the library's maximum fines would replace the respective items.
Changes coming to the Solid Waste Division of the Kingsport Public Works Department include removing the $15 fee for picking up furniture and appliances and offering city residents two free days a year at the city's demolition landfill.
Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said the elimination of the furniture/appliance fee was done to help remove some of the unsightly items from the city's curbs in a quicker fashion.
"It was a nominal fee to begin with, and one of the problems was the turnaround time it took once someone put it out on the road," McReynolds said. "To pick it up and charge them, you'd have appliances and furniture sitting on the road from two weeks to maybe five to six weeks, and that was just unacceptable."
Under the new guidelines, McReynolds said city crews will pick up furniture and appliances as the trucks run once every two weeks. The schedule of when the trucks will be in the various neighborhoods can be found at www.kingsportpublicworks.com under the "Brush/Trash" link.
Every second Saturday all residents of Sullivan County can use the city's demolition landfill without being charged a tipping fee. McReynolds said another new change will give city residents two free days a year to bring items to the landfill free of charge.
"We will keep track of people coming through, by using their addresses," McReynolds said. "We're trying to make it customer friendly so we're not forcing them into a day. When they do their work, they can take it to the landfill instead of putting it out on the street."
For more information on the fee changes contact Development Services Manager Chris McCartt at 224-2704.