The Rossville Public Library got a longer lease on life at a fundraiser Thursday night.
And future fundraisers may not be necessary, because voters in Walker County, Ga., should have the opportunity in two years to approve a quarter-mill property tax increase dedicated to libraries in Rossville, Chickamauga and LaFayette.
A little more than $2,300 was raised Thursday night at a concert that the Mid-South Concert Band put on at the Walker County Civic Center.
“It went very well,” said Lecia Eubanks, director of the Cherokee Regional Library System, which operates three branches in Walker County and the Dade County Public Library in Trenton, Ga. “We had around 90 to 100 people in the audience.”
The goal is to raise $12,000 to make up for a funding cut by the Rossville City Council. If the goal is met, the Rossville Public Library won’t have to close in the spring.
In addition to the $2,300 raised at the concert, donors have given about $2,000 to the Rossville library, for a total of about $4,300, officials said.
“We’re well on our way, but we’ve still got a little ways to go,” Eubanks said.
Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell helped organize Thursday’s concert and predicts the library will meet its fundraising goal.
“We’re going to raise the money. There’s a passion about this library that’s building,” Heiskell said.
In addition to getting less money than expected from Rossville, the library system’s funding was cut this year by the school districts in Walker and Dade counties. The cost of state-mandated health insurance also skyrocketed, adding to the library system’s budget woes.
Eubanks said the library is at the mercy of local cities, school districts and counties for its funding, and she hopes to find a long-term, dedicated source of county funding for the library.
Heiskell, who’s seeking her fourth term in the November election, wants to put a binding referendum on the November 2014 ballot to give voters the chance to approve the quarter-mill tax increase. Revenues from the tax would give the county’s libraries about $300,000 annually — about twice what the county gives now.
But increasing the property tax is “for the public to decide,” she said.
Dade County Executive Ted Rumley doesn’t anticipate putting a similar proposal before his county’s voters, and he thinks the county can find other ways to boost library funding.
“We’ve got some other things we’re going to work with before we even think of a millage increase,” Rumley said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education 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.