County Hears From Library Officials
The Fulton County commissioners agreed this week to draft a letter to the state in hopes of explaining ongoing, countywide economic and fiscal issues that have resulted in a loss of local funding for the Fulton County Library.
Library Executive Director Jamie Brambley and Board of Directors President Lisa Johnston appeared before commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, David Hoover II and Craig Cutchall on August 31 to discuss the current funding status of the library. Johnston noted during the sit-down meeting that the library’s funding levels have dropped by 25 percent over the last two years. The loss has come about as officials have witnessed a 25 percent increase in circulation and are overseeing a newly constructed facility in Mc- Connellsburg.
Johnston explained the library is responsible for maintaining the level of funding it receives from the county commissioners as well as the townships. The allotment for 2010 from the commissioners was cut by 50 percent, according to Johnston, who added they are currently awaiting a response from the Brush Creek Township Board of Supervisors on the possibility of an annual donation. All other municipalities have donated to the library to date for 2010.
“The Friends of the Library also help us where they can. Their donation is based on interest earned from an endowment,” said Johnston, a member of the Library/ Friend’s of the Library newly created Fundraising Committee.
It was pointed out the possibility exists that the state could reject the library’s waiver, which outlines the funding received from local sources. In the event the waiver is turned down, the library could stand to lose a portion or all of its state funding.
As a result, the commissioners agreed to draft a letter to the state by the conclusion of October related to various issues, including the high unemployment rate in Fulton County, increased usage at the library and the state of the county budget.
“We’re walking a thin line with our budget...We don’t know if we’ll be in the black or the red,” said Commissioner Keefer of the county’s budget talks that are slated to begin in upcoming months.
The group went on to discuss a sizeable quarterly invoice in the amount of $600 issued to the library for the facility’s sprinkler system, which has never been used. Brambley said she has received notice from officials on the McConnellsburg Borough Municipal Water Authority that the fee is linked directly to the size of the waterline needed for the sprinkler system.
So far, it has been determined by library officials that in addition to the library, only four other facilities receive the quarterly invoice – Antietam Iron Works, the Fulton County Medical Center, the Fulton County Courthouse and Giant. It was added that other areas charge libraries and other nonprofit organizations much less for these types of services.
The commissioners suggested the library officials should ask to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Water Authority to get a proper explanation.
In other matters attended to on Tuesday, the commissioners met with project developer Karen Hann, Michael Carpenter and Anthony Gabriel, grant managers for the Center for Community Development under the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development for onsite performance monitoring. Carpenter reported due to a large number of state retirees at a state level and the need to administer stimulus funding, his office was unable to complete the necessary monitoring last year.
Carpenter also said that due to decisions made at a federal level, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding has increased slightly in the most recent year.
The county moved forward with purchasing $11,501.99 in equipment and supplies in accordance with the License to Carry Grant.
On the heels of the resignation of Union Township tax collector Terra Strait, which became effec- tive August 31, the commissioners agreed to have the county auditors review the township’s tax collection books.
To bring themselves in compliance with state law, the commissioners adopted a policy regarding fees charged for data and paper copies, which was followed by an adoption of the Assessment Office Data Request Policy. The assessment office policy states office employees are able to provide certain property information over the telephone including name, address, parcel number and total assessment. Additional data can be obtained by visiting the assessment office or through the county’s website at http://www.co.fulton.pa.us/.
Other information currently available on the Web site, the commissioners indicated, are excerpts of the commissioners minutes between the years 1850 and 1925. The information was prepared by local historian and researcher Bill Turner.