published Friday, August 10th, 2012

Dade County won't get to vote on funding for library

Cathey Richardson, left, and Jason Doss work at two of the Dade County Public Library's public computers in the facility's temporary digs in Trenton, Ga., down the street from the facility now being renovated and expanded. Doss said he's anxious for the updated library to reopen with more available computers.
Cathey Richardson, left, and Jason Doss work at two of the Dade County Public Library's public computers in the facility's temporary digs in Trenton, Ga., down the street from the facility now being renovated and expanded. Doss said he's anxious for the updated library to reopen with more available computers.
Photo by Ben Benton.

The Cherokee Regional Library system continues to battle for funding on two fronts.

In Dade County, voters won't have a chance on Nov. 6 to decide whether to approve a half-mill property tax to fund the Dade Public Library in downtown Trenton, Ga.

Earlier this month, County Executive and Commission Chairman Ted Rumley said commissioners wanted to put the tax increase to a vote after a straw poll in the July 31 election showed that 71 percent of Dade voters favor dedicating a fixed portion of property taxes to help support the library.

That's not going to happen, Rumley said Thursday.

"We can't," he said. "It's just too late to do that and get that on [the ballot]."

Dade County also already has set its millage rate for the coming fiscal year, he noted.

"We wouldn't do anything till next year, anyway," Rumley said. "We'll just have to see what we can do between now and next year's budget."

Library Director Lecia Eubanks said the library just wants a fixed source of income to depend on, like other public services get.

"The library's not advocating for a tax increase," she said. "We'd just like a percentage dedicated to library service. It's [the county's] prerogative whether it's an increase in taxes or not."

Meanwhile, library supporters packed a Rossville City Council budget work session on Aug. 3 to oppose a potential $41,000 cut to the Rossville Public Library, which Eubanks said would have resulted in its closure.

"The library is on the chopping block," Eubanks said, explaining she's heard the Rossville City Council still may cut $10,000 from the Rossville library's budget.

Library supporters will pack the council's meeting Monday night to oppose that, she said.

Rossville Mayor Teddy Harris said Thursday that the council backed off the $41,000 cut at the work session, but he couldn't say what action council members would take Monday regarding the proposed $10,000 funding cut.

"I don't know what will happen," Harris said.

In a related matter, the remodeled and enlarged Dade Public Library at 102 Court St. in Trenton will open officially at 10 a.m. Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

After the county Board of Education voted on July 23 to eliminate its $39,000 annual contribution to the library, it looked as if the refurbished branch would be open only 20 hours per week. But it will stay open 30 hours per week, thanks to a fundraising campaign that overshot its goal of $19,000 and had raised $21,027 by Thursday afternoon, according to savedadelibrary.org.

The Cherokee Regional Library has branches in Trenton, Rossville, Chickamauga and LaFayette.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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