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Library, ETSU pathology seek additional funding from county

At the first budget workshop for the 2014-5 fiscal year, members of the Budget Committee of thePhoto by Brandon Hicks Carter County Commission heard few requests for increased funding from outside agencies as many of those agencies requested the same allocations as last fiscal year.
The largest requested increase came under the heading of “Pathology” for services to the county. That request — $88,900.25 —  is an increase of $35,157.25 over the last fiscal year’s numbers and there was no representative from that agency at the meeting to address the committee.
Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said when she contacted East Tennessee State University regarding the increased budget request she was told County Mayor Leon Humphrey would be speaking on their behalf. Humphrey was not present at the budget workshop when the item came up on the agenda so there was no discussion by the committee.
The second largest request from an outside agency came from the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, which is requesting an increase in funding of $33,412.50, which would double the county’s funding of the library.
Library Director Mel Goff addressed the request.
“You are probably wondering what the library does that warrants this increase,” Goff said to committee members. She went on to explain the various programs and services which the library provides to Carter County and its residents and reported to the committee that more than 15,000 residents of Carter County have library cards and use the programs and facilities the library provides.
Goff said the library’s proposed budget for the 2014-5 fiscal year is $438,745 and the library is only requesting $65,000 of that come from the county budget.
The library receives funding from the state and as a condition of that funding there are certain requirements which must be met. Goff said the increase in funding from the county is to help the library meet those obligations to keep from losing the state funding.
The loss of those funds from the state would be devastating to the library according to Goff. She said not only would failure to meet the obligations result in the loss of funds for the future it could result in the loss of items currently in use by the library.
“The state would come in and remove the items we had previously purchased with those state funds,” Goff said, adding that the library does not officially own the items purchased with those state funds, but rather the state owns them and allows the library to keep them in its collection. “We would lose 37 percent of our physical collection. We would also lose our access to R.E.A.D.S.” Goff said R.E.A.D.S. is the digital collection which the library has access to which allows patrons to check out digital books and media.
Goff finished her presentation by appealing to the commission not only on behalf of the library itself, but for all of the county residents who are helped by its services.
“We need you. The library needs you and your constituents need you to support the library now more than ever,” she said.
The City Parks and Recreation Department is requesting an increase in funding of just over $12,000, citing a need for improvements at park facilities.
Carter County Soil Conservation is asking for an increase of $997.50 to assist with the costs of services provided to county residents.
The committee also received a request for funding from an outside agency which has not been previously funded by the county — Children’s Advocacy Center — which is making a request for $2,500. No representative of that agency was on hand to speak to the committee regarding their request.
The total amount of increases requested by outside agencies is $73,102.25.
The following outside agencies requested the same funding levels as for the 2013-4 fiscal year: Carter County Volunteer Fire Departments, Carter County Rescue Squad, Carter County 911, Vocational Rehab, American Red Cross, First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, First Tennessee Development District, Carter County Tomorrow, and the Carter County Boys & Girls Club.
The only county department which presented its requested budget for the upcoming fiscal year was the landfill.
Deloach said, referring to Lyons, due to the loss of the largest customer of the landfill there was a large loss of revenue for that department’s budget. Landfill Manager Benny Lyons was on hand to discuss his proposed budget with the committee.
“It will take $91,000 to balance his budget,” Deloach said, adding that there is not enough money in that department’s fund balance to cover the loss. “He’s having to compromise due to loss of revenues so he is trying to decrease expenditures that are not fixed.”
Lyons agreed with Deloach’s assessment of his department’s budget.
“I’ve cut corners with every avenue I can take,” he said. “You get to the point where you feel like you are swimming with a 600 pound anchor around your neck.”