Commonwealth Journal

Local News

October 23, 2012

Attorney: If petition is successful, library would shut down

(Continued)

Somerset —

That could take years. 
“We have a pretty substantial contractual obligation,” Orwin said on Tuesday. 
Sanders said the library’s debt, something she says has ballooned far beyond what the construction of the new main branch was supposed to cost, is not the citizens’ problem, and she said some kind of accountability system has to be put in place to ensure the board answers to county officials — who are getting the heat from upset citizens in the wake of higher tax rates, even though their hands are tied. 
The magistrates have been outspoken in their frustrations with the library board and the increasing tax rates, but they’ve emphasized that they don’t want the library to close. 
“When they (citizens) came in to court and asked us about it, me personally I just advised the community to do what they think was best for them and for the library,” said 4th District Magistrate Glenn Maxey. 
Orwin said 95 percent of the library’s budget, which totals $2,709,434 for the 2012-2013 year, is funded through taxes. 
“They (the library) live and die with that property tax,” Orwin said. 
Orwin invited the court to meet up with the library board, which is made up of Elaine Wilson, John T. Mandt, David Durham, Glenn Shackelford, and Jerry Claunch, to study this year’s budget. 
“We all need to sit down, look at it, go over it,” Orwin said. “ ... I think you’re going to find it’s a very tightly run facility.” 
But Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield, while in agreement with Orwin’s statements of what a dissolution could mean for the library, said the magistrates can do no more than attend the meetings as citizens, and he said they are forbidden from attending “in tandem” as court representatives because to do so would violate open meetings laws. 

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