LAKE DALLAS — City officials said they are prepared to keep the Lake Cities Library running, after receiving word that the Corinth City Council may cut funding to the library.
Corinth council members are expected to decide whether or not they will reduce their city’s share of funding for the library during a meeting Thursday.
The library is funded through a partnership between Corinth, Lake Dallas, Hickory Creek and Shady Shores, and support from Corinth makes up about a third of the library’s budget, library officials said.
Though it hasn’t been made official, the Corinth council seems set on reducing the funding from about $98,000 to about half for the 2013-14 fiscal year, and then eliminating the expenditure thereafter.
Residents have questioned whether or not the cuts would cause the library to close, but Lake Dallas Mayor Tony Marino said he won’t let that happen. However, Marino said he’s waiting until the Corinth council delivers its decision before proceeding with discussions and plans on how to address the situation.
“They’ve been discussing pulling out for two years now,” Marino said. “We’re just going to wait and see what they do before we make any plans public. We want them to make it official, but we’ll be disappointed if they leave.”
Marino said he won’t have any hard feelings toward Corinth officials if they decide to cut funding. He said he understands that it’s a difficult decision and respects whatever choice they need to make for their city.
If Corinth decides to pull out, Marino said, he will meet with the Shady Shores and Hickory Creek mayors to discuss the situation. There are several options that can be explored to keep the library open, including restructuring library hours, depending more on volunteers and looking for alternate revenue sources, Marino said.
“We’ll make it work,” Marino said. “No matter what they decide, the library isn’t going anywhere.”
Corinth council members have questioned whether they pay a fair share based on usage by the city’s residents and whether or not the city receives the level of service that it deserves for the money it allocates toward the library.
Council member Randy Gibbons said despite several requests, the council has yet to receive data on how many Corinth residents use the library and check out books regularly. Library officials have stated that more than 5,000 Corinth residents have a library card, but the Corinth City Council said that does not reflect how many residents use the library on a monthly basis.
Corinth City Council members haven’t decided what services they would provide to replace the library, but they expect to address that issue sometime after the budget is approved on Thursday and before spring 2014.
Barbara Thompson, library director, said if Corinth pulls out, the library will definitely have to cut positions and possibly services, too.
She said that there are not any options available to replace Corinth’s funding.
“There are ways to find additional funds, but not at the level they provided,” she said.
Marino added that he expects the Lake Dallas council to be proactive to ensure that the library’s services are not threatened.
“You can’t put a price on education,” he said. “This is a service that the community needs.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.