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Council denies library's funding request

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- Sunday hours at Samuels Library may not last much longer without more money.

Town Council did not appear supportive Monday of the library board's request for more money to open for four hours on Sundays. Library Director Mary "Nicki" McGuire Lynch asked council during a work session if members would consider giving a one-time grant of $13,000 for the library to let it stay open on Sundays.

Lynch explained Tuesday that the library needed to raise $39,000 to keep Sunday hours and was seeking a third of that from the town. A third would come from the library's endowment fund or reserves and the remainer the library would need to find.

Council continued its discussion about the library's request as other funding matters were considered in the proposed fiscal 2015 budget. The requested amount of $13,000 equals one tenth of 1 percent of the $12.1 million proposed in the general fund for the fiscal 2015 budget.

The town's current budget includes a one-time allocation that allowed the library to open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays beginning in January. An average of 70 people per hour visit the library on Sundays, Lynch told council. The library has counted between 139 and 539 people visiting on a given Sunday, Lynch said.

Whether the library can stay open without the town's financial help remains uncertain, Lynch said Tuesday.

"It sort of depends at this point on if we can come up with some funding," Lynch said. "We might be able to open up just during the winter months. But we haven't exhausted all of our avenues."

The library board initially asked the county for $75,000 and nothing from the town, Lynch said Tuesday. County leaders agreed to give the library $40,000. The library board chose to earmark the $40,000 to bring employee salaries on par with libraries in other jurisdictions as well as those paid to county workers.

The library's entry-level position starts at $9 an hour, Lynch said Tuesday. By comparison, Warren County pays $10.62 per hour as a starting salary for its entry-level position, Lynch said.

Several council members said at the work session that they would not support the library board's request at this time. Vice Mayor N. Shae Parker pointed out that the fiscal 2015 budget doesn't include any increase in the salaries for town employees.

"We're not giving big raises," Lynch told council. "What we're doing is actually bringing their salaries up to par."

Mayor Timothy Darr said he didn't see the amount as requested available in the budget nor did he see council support for the request, but told Lynch not to give up hope.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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