Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The Common Cornerstone of Our Community
"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest," observed the late Lady Bird Johnson.
Yesterday, the Fayetteville Public Library Board and staff hosted an informational session for the mayor and city council, because Mayor Dan Coody told the library not to ask for a budget increase of more than $402 for next year. “ I’m going to remind you that you appointed us to be advocates for the library,” said Don Marr, library board member and former alderman, and he was. Director Louise Schaper asked the city for an additional $65,913 for staff wage increases, extending hours on weekends and nights, and expanding digital media access.
Coody presented a summary budget to the City Council earlier this month that included a 1.6% increase, enough so that employees would be eligible for the same raises as other city employees but nothing for extended hours or services. Yesterday, Coody said, "We have many needs and fewer resources than we would like." He refused to commit on recommending additional funds for the library, telling them that there were other things more important. His travel to conventions in far away places and no bid contracts to out-of-state consultants, perhaps? “We’ll just have to see,” said Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell, who like Coody did not agree to support the library's request. Ward 2 Alderman Kyle Cook hemmed and hawed but made no commitment.
Ward 1 Alderman Adella Gray, in an unusual break with Mayor Coody, said, "We’ll do all we can to find all the money we can. I’d love to have it open 24-7. I feel this is such a very important asset for all of our citizens, for the whole city of Fayetteville. Yes, I’ll support it."
The most vigorous support for the library came from Ward 4 Alderman Lioneld Jordan. "I’m from the south end of town. Down there, there’s not a lot of computers, and there’s not a lot of folks that can spend a lot of money on books. But they can come here," he said then added, "I will support this library with whatever they need, whenever they need it. I will support the money. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Whatever they need moneywise, I will support."
The city's budget is a reflection of priorities -- priorities of those who hold office and priorities of those who elect them. Differences in ranking these priorities are already becoming clear with regard to the 2009 budget for Fayetteville. Now is the time to let your Aldermen and those running for office know what funding choices you think are most important and ask whether they agree, then help achieve those goals when you vote in November.