The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Letters to the Editor

May 13, 2012

Letters to the Editor 5/13/12



Tom Schuman


Project needs sanity

Dear Editor:

In December 2010, Mayor Ronnie Marks felt that the city could only build what the city can afford, in regard to the proposed new library. 

A continued concern, shared by many, is the potential cost of future operations and maintenance expenses of a new facility at four times the current size. If the operating and maintenance costs, per year, were to increase from $500,000 to $750,000, the city may be unable to provide funds without a new revenue stream. Tax increase? Yet, the library foundation officials want us to believe that the increase in cost will be only about 19 percent. Who’s to pay this increase?

Mary Wallace Moore of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library was recently quoted in The Huntsville Times: “The explosion of the Internet over the past 20 years has not diminished the role of libraries, it has expanded it. Communities demand more from their libraries than ever before – computers and Internet access, WiFi, eBooks, eAudiobooks, downloadable music, remote access databases. These materials and resources are costly.”

It’s not space, so much as higher fees, equipment, etc., in the new high tech age that will drastically increase the library’s operating and maintenance costs.

How about sharing the Kroger building with a new city hall, with the library getting 25,000 square feet, or 62 percent of the building, which is 2 1/2 times as much space as present? 

It has been proposed several times with no interest on the library foundation official’s part. This way many expenses could be shared with the city and library because of the city hall requirements, including Internet access, Wi-Fi, etc. 

This could reduce the need for a tax increase and save the taxpayers an estimated $3 million badly needed dollars. That could be used to pave our streets.

City Council and County Commission, it is time to draw the line on these unnecessary expenses! We cannot afford to bow to big egos. If the government cuts military and defense spending by half a trillion dollars, it will directly affect Athens’ many residents who are employed by military and defense contractors. 

A large layoff will decrease Athens and Limestone’s tax revenues. I lived through the Vietnam 1972-73 closedown reduction’s effect in Southern California. It was brutal.

Let’s get some sanity into this project. No more building without a concrete contractual agreement on revised use of the Kroger building now.

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