Sparks flew at the city council meeting Tuesday as the council heard, once again, from the Gladys Johnson Ritchie Public Library about funding. Since the council voted to leave the library’s “usual” lump sum of $20,000 out of the 2013 budget, instead reviewing funding throughout the year, the subject has come up a number of times, and has become a sore subject each time. There seem to be two opposing views on it, one coming from the council and city, the other from the library and supporters.
In the past, the library received $20,000 from the city’s general fund for operating costs. In 2012, the current council reviewed the funding numbers and decided that the library would be given an initial $5,000, and later, if the sales tax brought in enough money, the council would re-assess the situation and give more if they could.
This was not received well by the library. At the Town Hall Meeting held in March, Library Director Lanora Joslin said that if the library did not get their usual funding, they would likely lose their status as an “Accredited” library. Joslin said that would effect the library receiving grant funds from the state, and could have a detrimental impact on the library.
City council members have stated they do not want to see anything happen to the library.
The funding for the library has come from the general fund in the past. The council decided to take the funding from the sales tax fund, and so far the revenue brought in, which was previously used to support the library, as well as the Concerned Citizens, has not been enough to give the lump sum amount those entities are accustomed to.
Joslin has requested the funding be taken from other funding “pools”, such as the general fund or the hotel and motel tax.
Unfortunately, the funding from those have to meet certain criteria that the library doesn’t meet. The hotel and motel tax has to be used toward the promotion of tourism, which Joslin adamantly insisted at Tuesdays meeting, “The library and Concerned Citizens are used by more citizens than most businesses.”
Joslin told the council she believes that the issue is, “City Manager Smith and the council do not believe that the library is a public library.”
Joslin stated, “I don’t think Mike Smith wants to give the library any money.”
Smith responded, “Mr. Smith doesn’t make the decisions, the council makes the decisions.”
It was obvious that this subject is one that sparks emotions. At one point, a heated exchange occurred between Councilwoman Keri Lane and Councilman Ken Joslin when Lane responded to comments muttered privately by Joslin, as Lane was addressing Lanora Joslin. The exchange visibly upset Lane, who left the meeting abruptly.
Councilwoman Faye Lewis stated, “It's time for someone to come to this council, not in name only, and make some hard knock decisions in the best interest of the city as a whole. What I do is my best. That is all I can do. If someone thinks they can do a better job here than I do, they are more than able to replace me when it is time for re-election. This is a hard job. The only person I truly have to answer to is God.”
A motion was made by Councilman J.W. Lindsey to give both the Concerned Citizens and the library the rest of the funding they normally receive, using the general fund. The motion died from lack of a second.
Council members agree the library is a vital part of the city and has been for a very long time.
The residents of Jacksboro are accostomed to a high quality facility, keeping it operating is, and should be, a priority. Determining sound goals is the key.