The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 16, 2013

Library officials seek additional funds from city, county

— The Athens-Limestone Public Library is requesting $150,000 apiece from the County Commission and City Council to help cover the cost of purchasing more books and materials and to offset the loss of operating income after diverting $1 million from the Southard Trust to the new library project.

Rod Huffman, chairman of the library board of trustees, said Tuesday the Southard Trust is currently valued at “a little more than $2.7 million.” The endowment began with a $1 million bequest to the library 23 years ago by the late Shelby Southard, and the annual dividends are used to augment the library’s operating budget.

During the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the trust has provided $133,262 toward the library budget of $530,350. In fiscal 2013-14, library officials are predicting $93,992, or nearly $40,000 less from the previous year due to transfers made to the construction fund for the new library being built in the former Kroger’s building on South Jefferson Street.

Huffman said during the public comments portion of Monday’s County Commission meeting that the trust has paid $500,000 toward the new library, and an additional $500,000 is slated for construction costs. The Athens library grew from 10,188 cardholders in the previous fiscal year to 11,900 through June 2013, including 6,655 in the county.

“We’re asking for $150,000 from both the city and the county because the Southard Trust dividends will be down about $40,000,” said Huffman, who estimated a family could “save $50 to $100 in one trip to the library” from checking out books, DVDs and music and attending free programming to using the research resources and public computers.

Debbie Joyner, fundraising consultant for the Athens library, said Tuesday half of the $1 million being transferred from the trust to the construction fund went toward the Phase I exterior work, while the other $500,000 is expected to be transferred in September for interior expenses during Phase II. The new, 38,427-square-foot library could be completed by June 2014, according to project officials.

In the past three years, both the city and county have provided level funding despite being asked for $150,000 each year. During the current budget year, the library received $66,588 from the state, $80,000 from the county, $85,000 from TVA in-lieu-of-tax revenue and $115,000 from the city.

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