Library seeks support of city amid budget concerns

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

HARDY, AR (KAIT) - As we near the end of the year, and continue into budgeting season for most cities, there are some concerns about the city of Hardy's support and monetary contribution to the Sharp County Library in Hardy.

Several months ago, when the library board gave the annual State of the Library address to the Hardy City Council, the board asked for a resolution showing the city supported the facility.

It was requested because the city was no longer agreeing to pay for maintenance or repairs of the library's elevator lift as well as other upkeep of the property like the annual termite treatments.

"The lift is so integral this library and its people that we really feel that the city administration should take care of that yearly maintenance fee to keep it safe, keep it running and make sure it's up to par," said Cecilia Mullins, the Hardy librarian.

Mullins has worked in the library for nine years.

She said until the lift was installed in 2011, the library was not in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The library board believes these upkeep costs are outlined in the 99-year lease agreement made with the city in 1999.

The city's attorney, Alexander Bigger, questions the legality of the agreement, citing an article of the Arkansas Constitution in a letter linked below.

In the letter to the library board, dated Dec. 1, 2017, Bigger suggests several changes the city council wishes to make to their agreement with the library board, including entering into a new lease term of 10 years for the library building.

It suggests giving the library a set amount of money each year for upkeep costs, rather than paying for all yearly fees, which could vary year-to-year.

Mullins said the library board began paying for all four library locations' utilities in Dec. 2015.

"At that time, the library board took over paying utilities for this library as well as the three others that are covered by the Sharp County Library mill tax," Mullins said. "And that was because two of the cities that are branches of ours, their cities were not able to pay the utilities for the libraries so the library board decided if they're going to pay for one they need to pay for all."

Mullins said they are blessed to have a millage to fund the four Sharp County library locations, but if the city does not help with building maintenance, it will cut into the services they can provide.

"If we're spending our funding on a building, maybe we'll need a new roof in a year or something but I don't know, if we have to spend it on that then obviously once that's spent, it's spent," she said. "Whether you spend it on books or a roof or new water pipes, then it's gone."

Mullins said she just wants to see a continued partnership with the city.

"We are looking to be a good thing for this community but also to be a good thing for the city administration so they can say, 'we have a park, we have several parks, we have a library, we have many amenities to offer in this city,'" Mullins said.

Hardy Mayor Jason Jackson said that, as of right now, there is $3,000 in the 2018 budget for the library, but the city council still has to approve the budget on Dec. 19.

The mayor said the library board is welcome at that meeting to discuss their needs.

He also said it is likely that the council has to make some cuts to their city budget for their revenue to cover operating costs.

Below, you can see the full letters from both attorneys and the 1999 lease agreement between the city and the library.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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