Martin told the council last Monday night that the library simply needs more money to operate properly this year. She said the shortage in funds may have come from a lack of communication; the library board had no chairperson at budget time last year to make specific monetary requests of the council, she explained.
“We may have fallen through the cracks,” she said.
The funds for library administration in the city’s projected 2011-2012 general budget actually rose several thousand dollars from last year. The allotment is budgeted at $35,269 for the coming fiscal year, up from last year’s $33,860, according to Mayor Harry Pierce.
The largest part of the budget goes toward payroll, Martin said. The library has had to give up some programs to function within its current budget. Martin said she cut a raise out that was given to her by the library board and also cut her own hours.
The library is open 36 hours a week now, and Martin said even when there are no patrons present, she stays busy cataloging books and performing other tasks that must be done each day.
In the past year, she and the staff have worked “to bring the library to the point where we can increase community and volunteer service,” she said.
The library reached that point last year and hired an activities director to run events like story time.
Fairmount Library is one of only three municipal libraries in the state, according to Martin. All other libraries in Georgia are part of regional systems. Municipal libraries qualify only for private grants, not state money, she said.
Martin said she has researched the option of becoming part of a regional system, but feels it’s better to stay municipal at this time because Fairmount Library would likely be considered low priority for funding in a bigger system.
“We’d be the first thing to go off the books,” she said.
Extra money for library operations is a necessary investment according to Council Member Jim Dodd.
“I agree that we need it,” he said.
Council members agreed they will need to examine the budget and see where money can be taken from to accommodate the library, and they decided to table the matter for the meantime.
This move “gives us time to look at the budget,” said Dodd, “and come up with some money.”
Martin said she will take the extra funds when the council can allot them.
“I’m asking for money now or later,” she told them.
Planters and other business
Also during Monday night’s meeting, council members approved work on the city planters on the back side of what used to a doctor’s office on Peachtree Street as this year’s Blue Cross/ Blue Shield Wellpoint of Georgia project.
Last year, BCBS donated a little more than $300 to the project, which consisted of building the planters for community use, organizer Teddy Lapaquette explained.
This year, community participants will spruce up the boxes again and add mulch around the area, she said. This time, there will probably be no money from BCBS, she said, but the city really only needs labor to get this year’s goal accomplished.
The city also made plans to accommodate attendees of Coulter Hampton Day, which will be March 10 this year. The council agreed not to rent out the community center between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day in order to let those participating in Coulter Hampton festivities park there.
Additionally, the council approved an agreement regarding the Georgia Municipal Employee Benefits Systems (GMEBS) restated master defined benefit retirement plan. This is an annual agreement.
Mayor Harry Pierce and Council Members Calvin Watts and Larry Rogers were also sworn in Monday for four-year terms. Pierce and Watts were incumbents in the elections last November; Rogers is new to the board.