Library system cuts undecided

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON — The director and Board of Trustees of the Newton County Library System are still contemplating how to reduce expenses following budget cuts by both the state and local governments.

"We are considering our options right now. We have not made any final or definite decisions about what to do next year. We're looking at all options," said new Director DeLaciea Keaton, who just arrived in June. "Especially because I'm so new, we wanted to wait until we knew what funding was going to be — the final allocations from the city, Board of Education, county and state — before we made a final decision."

The library system will not receive any state funding for materials this year. However, Keaton said she has confirmed that state funding will not be cut further due to a reduction in appropriations from the local government. State funding will be reduced from $337,949 to $283,884

Counties that make a reduction to library allocations greater than reductions to other departments are at risk of losing state funding. Newton County reduced the library allocation from $1.1 million to $916,452, an 18 percent cut. Most departments were cut around 10 percent in this year's budget. However, Chairman Kathy Morgan has said that $300,000 allocated for operations of the new Porter Memorial Branch last year was a one-time allocation to get the new library running. This year, the libraries were both under one line item.

Library officials initially asked for $600,000 in additional funds, as the $300,000 from the prior year only covered six months of operation for Porter Memorial. After learning of the county's budget woes, they reduced the request to $300,000, but ultimately received $100,000.

Just how short funds will fall from what is needed to run the library branches depends on which request you consider, Keaton said. But regardless, "It's still less than what we needed," she said.

Keaton said she expects the Board of Trustees to address the funding shortage at its next meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, in the meeting room of the Covington Branch Library at 7116 Floyd St.