Although the county has no official say over how the institution spends money they did have to vote to say they received the library's budget because they are a special taxing district. The Magistrates voted they had received the budget at Tuesday's Fiscal Court meeting but not without comment.
“The library plays an important role in the county, but it looks like we're going the wrong way,” said Magistrate Thomas Bouldin. “That's a lot of money going into payroll instead of new materials.”
Magistrate Jo Orange said there was probably an explanation and thought the court needed to attend a library board meeting if they had questions.
“I noticed in their budget that material costs went down drastically,” said Orange adding, “I think materials are the most important part of a library but we didn't know the whole story.”
The Logan County Public Library, which was built in 1967 and went through an expansion in 1974, is governed by a five-member board which includes Jay Joines (president), Marie Gamble (vice president), Pam Price, Obie VanCleave and Freddie Boarders.
Library Director Linda Kompanik said she would love to have the court come to a board meeting and would gladly answer any of their questions about the library.
“We have nothing to hide,” said Kompanik, who stands behind the decisions of the board.
Kompanik said the increases in payroll were due to the library's continuing growth.
“We offer various services which require employees,” said Kompanik, who added that materials are up to date and plentiful.
Judge/Executive Logan Chick said he feels the library is a good tool for Logan County but he is a little concerned about the library tax, which is currently at 6.8 percent.
“I am very pro library,” said Chick, “but I am concerned about whether or not the library can purchase new property and build a new library without raising the tax.”
Each year the library board can choose to take the compensative rate (which is staying the same) or choose to take a 4 percent increase in income over the previous year. Kompanik said she believes taking the four percent each year is the way to go simply because of the increased costs of things such as postage, gas for the book mobile and materials.
“If you don't increase you will become stagnant,” said Kompanik.
The Library Board purchased property on Armory Drive for $125,000 in February to eventually construct a larger facility. The library currently has approximately $250,000 in its building fund but will seek grants as well as host fundraisers to get the $3.5 million it will take to build it.
The library has been outgrowing the current location for years, said Kompanik.
Chick said that is one of the most commented on taxes in the county.
“I am always hearing people comment on that tax,” said Chick.
Magistrate Kerry Kenady said he didn't think it could hurt for Fiscal Court to get more involved with the library. He went to see Kompanik who said she welcomed his questions and was glad to see him come to her and ask.
“I told Kerry that the most important part of a library was not the books but the people who worked there,” said Kompanik adding she used to have a poster in her office that said, “The most important resource in a library goes home at night.”
The increase in payroll is not from raises. Employees get a 3 percent cost of living raise annually. The increase in payroll comes from new employees.
“We had to hire a full-time maintenance position and we have to make sure we have enough people to serve the flow,” said Kompanik who says she always budgets more just to make sure she doesn't run short.
Kompanik develops the budget which has to be approved by the board.
“Our board is a very dedicated group of volunteers who question my every move. I am not allowed to just go out there and spend money. This is a wonderful board who investigates every move,” said Kompanik.
When questioned about decreasing material costs Kompanik said it was a reflection on the libraries hard work to make sure the facility was up to date with its resources.
“We have been compiling resources for years now and we are offering the most recent in all areas,” said Kompanik, adding a lot of programs are offered through the Internet now which cuts back on costs.
“Like I said before, a library is not just about books. It's about the people who check you out, reshelf the materials, help the mother set up a MySpace account so she can contact her son in Iraq, help the patron find their way to a reputable Internet resource, answer questions on genealogy or historical information, introduce children to the importance of literature, supply the community with a multifaceted facility in which they can be entertained as well as informed,” said Kompanik.