published Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Rossville close to budget vote

Brianna Eimers, 5, left, and Alyssa Eimers, 7, listen to Brandy Wyatt, the Rossville Public Library youth education coordinator, read a book about pirates during the homeschool storytime program at the library Tuesday afternoon. The Rossville City Council plans to cut the library's budget.
Brianna Eimers, 5, left, and Alyssa Eimers, 7, listen to Brandy Wyatt, the Rossville Public Library youth education coordinator, read a book about pirates during the homeschool storytime program at the library Tuesday afternoon. The Rossville City Council plans to cut the library's budget.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

It appears the Rossville City Council won't revamp the city's tax scheme after all.

The council is poised to approve a budget that would keep taxes and fees the same -- but could cut Rossville Public Library funding to the point that a library official said hours would be reduced or the branch may close.

Following a bruising Sept. 11 meeting at which an angry crowd opposed a property tax hike, the City Council held a special workshop Monday night and now seems ready to scrap a millage increase and stick with a $6.50-per-month administration fee sent to every address with a water meter.

Next, at 5 p.m. Thursday, the council will vote on whether to maintain the existing tax rate. The city plans to tap $105,000 out of its roughly $610,000 in reserves to balance the budget.

"We're not going up on taxes, so it should be easy from here on out," Mayor Teddy Harris said of the budget process.

If the council approves the first reading of the budget Thursday, a second and final budget hearing will be at council's regularly scheduled Oct. 8 meeting.

The proposed budget cuts the library's funding to $54,000 annually, down $12,000 from $66,000 proposed in an earlier budget.

Lecia Eubanks, director of the Cherokee Regional Library system that has branches in Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Trenton, said the Rossville Public Library would have to cut back to 20 to 18 hours -- or perhaps close entirely -- under the proposed city budget.

The library already has cut back to 30 hours a week, down from 45 hours.

"If you want a library, you need to fight for it," Eubanks said. "You need to show up at the meetings and hold your ground."

Julie Novak, a Rossville resident and library board member, predicted the library's employees will leave if their hours are cut further.

"They're not going to stay," she said. "They're not going to pay their bills on half their pay."

about Tim Omarzu...

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.

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