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Council not in favor of free utilities for library

Just like Grady County commissioners, Cairo city councilmen want to see what budget cuts Roddenbery Memorial Library Director Alan Kaye proposes to make to the library’s operating budget before they will agree to increase funding for the public library.
Kaye is scrambling to fill a $100,00 budget gap in anticipation of the Grady County Board of Education cutting out all funding for the library in its spending plan.
The library director is seeking the city council’s approval to waive utilities charges for the library over the course of the next two years, as well as to cover the cost of lawn maintenance for the public library.
City Manager Chris Addleton is budgeting to fund the library at the current level of $237,500 and the prospect for free utilities appears dim.
The library’s utilities cost is about $35,000 annually, according to the city manager, but Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas spoke out against waiving the costs of utilities.
“I’m against giving away utilities,” Douglas said.
Addleton told councilmen he has advised Kaye the council is unlikely to donate the utilities and encouraged him to present a proposal including cuts to library expenses.
“He needs to be looking at ways he can cut costs. I’ve told him that, and I also spoke with a member of the library board of trustees and told the same thing. I’d like to see what they are going to do first,” Mayor Richard VanLandingham said.
The mayor said he asked what the library director is considering cutting and his reply was “nothing,” according to VanLandingham.
Councilman Ernest Cloud asked what would happen if the school board does not honor the 1947 contract between the city, county, school board and library regarding local funding for the public library.
“It’s not enforceable. It’s more of an agreement, and you can’t make any one pay anything. Eventually, the library needs a single funding source and we hope that can be worked out in the future,” Addleton said.
Last year, the library mobilized a fund raising effort to help fill the gap in the library’s budget caused by a $36,000 cut in funding from the school system. Kaye has said previously he is not anxious to call on library patrons again this year.
Kaye also asked the county to cover the lawn maintenance costs of $4,800 annually over the next two years, but county commissioners said they would make no decisions regarding library funding until a budget proposal from the library’s director is submitted.
In related news, the city is proposing to increase its funding of two programs.
City Manager Addleton has increased city funding for the Grady County Joint Development Authority from $37,500 to $41,000 and is upping funding for the Downtown Facade Improvement grant program from $10,000 to $15,000.
Funding for Keep Grady County Beautiful and Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy remained unchanged at $19,000 and $4,000 respectively.
Addleton has cut the budget for the Holder Park Youth Center from $17,550 to $15,000, but increased the budget for the Holder Park pool from $36,900 to $37,500.
Funding for the Downtown Development Authority remains level at $25,000 annually.

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