Eyeing costs, Albemarle continues to seek more information on regional library agreement
By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, October 7, 2010
A staff review of the agreement that has Albemarle County participating in the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system will not be available until January, prompting concern from several members of the Board of Supervisors.
“Back in June, when I asked to have a meeting with the library [Board of Trustees], I was told that within a couple of months we’d be having something back from staff,” Supervisor Ann Mallek said Wednesday. “[January] is way too late, from my perspective, in the budget process.”
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Earlier this year, the JMRL’s Board of Trustees threatened to close the Scottsville library to cover a 5 percent reduction in funding from Albemarle County. Supervisors eventually decided to spare the library and allocated $3.17 million, the same amount as in the previous year.
“For that amount of money we could take care of the libraries in the county very easily,” Supervisor Duane Snow said.
The library agreement describes how costs are to be shared among JMRL’s six jurisdictions. All jurisdictions contribute to library administration and system-wide services. Charlottesville and Albemarle County both contribute to the funding of the Central, Gordon Avenue and Northside libraries.
Albemarle County is the sole supporter of both the Crozet and Scottsville branches.
“We’re under-serving our residents because we’re dumping the biggest portion into city facilities,” Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said, adding that he would prefer to spend money on the Crozet and Northside libraries.
To leave the system, Albemarle would have to give two years’ notice, according to the agreement, meaning the county would at a minimum fund JMRL for at least two more years.
Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said it was worth taking the time to complete the review.
“It behooves us to be well-educated and understand what it is we’re getting for what we pay and what the options would be,” Rooker said.
Supervisor Lindsay G. Dorrier Jr. suggested that the county might find a way to stay within the system but get more control of the system’s budget.
“If we think that they’re spending more money on [the city] than we think is proper, we can influence that decision,” Dorrier said.
Mallek said she wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s showdown.
“We need to continue to support our library in the upcoming budget and not have a replay of last year’s debate,” Mallek said. “It’s one of those core services that we need.”
Supervisors will continue preparations for the next budget with a meeting next Tuesday to discuss future funding needs.
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