Library board approves budget

COVINGTON — The Newton County Library Board of Trustees has approved the fiscal year 2014 budget.

The board met Aug. 8 and gave final approval to a budget it had preliminarily approved in June. Revenues total $1,423,963, with expenditures at $1,673,963. A beginning fund balance of $947,607 will be decreased by at least $250,000 in order to make repairs to the roof and HVAC system. The library system also has a $100,000 grant from the state for that purpose. The state grant will pay half the cost of repairs, up to $100,000, with an equal match required from the library system. If repairs exceed the maximum the state will cover, the library system is responsible for the remaining cost. If the cost of repairs exceeds those funds, the board will have to dip into the six-month fund reserve, said Chairman Steve Whatley.

The library board recently agreed to maintain a fund reserve of at least $650,000 to cover six months of operating expenses. In addition, the library has $47,607 in contingency funds.

The board has called a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday to hear proposals from two architectural firms who have submitted proposals to be project managers on the HVAC and roof repairs.

In addition to the grant for repairs, the library system has received a nearly $17,000 state grant to purchase new computers. The computers will be placed at the Covington branch and Newborn service outlet, said Director Lace Keaton, who added it's not yet known how many computers will be purchased.

In other news, the board made changes to the policy governing use of meeting rooms at the Covington and Porter branches.

The hourly fee charged to for-profit groups was set at $20 per hour, with a fee of $10 per hour set for non-profit groups. Fees are required to be paid in advance and submitted with a reservation request form, and 24 hours notice is required for a refund. There was previously no distinction between profit and non-profit groups and the availability was for larger blocks of time, Keaton said.

Library funding agents — the county, city of Covington and Board of Education — and their departments are allowed to use meeting space for free.

Fees of $200 for damage to library property and $50 for clean-up if the room is not cleaned as required have also been added. In addition, the board decided to keep the current policy that groups in need of regular, long-term meeting space may reserve the rooms three months in advance. That policy was previously in place but some groups have the rooms reserved year-round. Vice Chair Lois Upham said it’s not the library’s goal to provide ongoing, guaranteed meeting space and the board agreed to apply the three-month in advance booking policy to all groups.

Keaton said the policies have not been consistently applied and have differed at the branches.

“When you have more than one full-service facility, you have to have consistency across the board,” she said.


RetiredGuy 1 year, 9 months ago

The library board and the county commissioners should be funding the Library, not cutting the budget, again.

I was there yesterday. There is row after row of empty magazine racks. There is only a skeleton crew to provide service.

The Library is a most important source for education for the Citizens of Newton Co. Our elected officials should put a higher priority on funding our library.


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