Library system facing cuts, repairs

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Library System will have state funding cut by about 3.5 percent in fiscal year 2014, just as it is facing some costly repairs.

The library's proposed budget for the year that begins July 1 is $1,307,027, a decrease of more than $46,000 from the current year budget.

While local funding from the county, city and school system is expected to remain the same, at a total of $933,852, state funding will be reduced. The library board will not approve the final budget until its Aug. 8 meeting, after it is certain that the county appropriation won't change. The Board of Commissioners is set to approve the county budget at its July 16 meeting. Director Lace Keaton said no personnel cuts are expected and the library system will have to find savings through "being good stewards of the money."

The Board of Trustees has accepted the proposed budget at this time and agreed to reserve enough funds, $650,000 for six months operating costs. It has also agreed to reserve at least $150,000 for repairs to the roof and HVAC system at the Covington branch.

Repairing the leaky roof is the first priority, said Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Whatley.

The library system has a state grant of up to $100,000 for roof repairs. 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.

Earlier this month, board members agreed to hire architects with Craig Gaulden Davis of Greenville, S.C., to conduct a facilities assessment to determine what repairs are needed for the roof and HVAC system at the Covington branch and to give a cost estimate.

The extent of repairs needed to the 16-year-old HVAC system is more than anticipated, Whatley said. The board has agreed to issue Requests for Proposals for roof repairs and a mechanical engineer to further evaluate the system. The Board of Trustees previously budgeted $50,000 for repairs to the system. The costs of roof and HVAC repairs won't be known until bids are received, Whatley said.