Minutes of Guest – Member – Consensus Meeting

Member / Guest Meeting
September 11, 2014
County Commission Room, Charles Town Library
6:30 pm

Present were: Sherry Adams, Ann Coulter, Jeffrey Gustafson, Kate McElroy, Patti Mulkeen-Corley, Carolyn Rodis, Debbie Royalty, Carline Shaw, Stephen Skinner, Libby Sturm, Carole Telfair, Dannie Wall, Carolyn Watson, Ron Widmyer and three guests.

A delightful food display was available for all to enjoy at 6:30. Especially noted were strawberries and grapes, chips and salsa, blue cheese wafers, a cheese plate with a delicate brie cheese and crackers, an assortment of fudge, brownies and walnut brownies that were popular and other goodies. However, all choices were topped by interest in a red velvet cake. All foods were enjoyed.

The meeting was called together by President Debbie Royalty at 7:01. Present were 18 people. Greetings were given to all present and thank yous went to Carolyn Watson for her work with the library study and to Ann Coulter and her husband for setting up the meeting tonight. Three guests were recognized and two new league members were introduced: Libby Sturm and Carolyn Telfair.

When members arrived at the meeting they were given three voting stickers and instructions to vote for earlier nominated organizations for the Community Service Awards for 2015. This voting process was done during the social period by placing your sticker by the organization of your choice. Nominations for the award were: Community Ministries, Eastern WV Community Foundation, Meals on Wheels, and The Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition. During the meeting President Royalty directed that voting was now closed and a vote tally showed that Community Ministries was the LWVJC winner of the 2015 Community Service Award.

There being no further business the business meeting was adjourned at 7:07 pm for the start of the program.

Carolyn Watson presented a power point about the libraries in WV. A summary is:

The Library system in WV consists of 97 public libraries which are funded locally by any or all of the following ways: local schools, the county governments and or the library municipalities. The state has a formula to match local funding up to $5.09 per capita for the service area of the library. West Virginia law allows local funding by counties, towns and schools through budgeted line items, voter elected excess levies, specified property tax rates, or special fees charged to the citizens. However, none of the local funding options is mandated or required.

Currently County Commissions, Boards of Education, and municipal councils do not provide guaranteed local funding to libraries beyond a one year period. This does not allow library boards to conduct normal business like lease agreements, service agreements or personnel. Libraries need a secured local source of funding to attain the state funding so as to budget their own programs and staffs. Efforts in the past to combine public libraries and school libraries have been recently discouraged because of the conflict to provide school security from the general public and because of different program goals.

Jefferson County has four public libraries: Charles Town Public Library, Shepherdstown Public Library, Summit Point Library, and the Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library. Complications arise in the similar treatment of the four libraries as the Charles Town Public Library is a private library with a declining endowment, and the Summit Point Library is not connected to any municipality. These libraries are funded by the schools, county and municipalities at the discretion of the school board, and commissions of the county and towns. These decisions for funding library needs are made only after consideration of their own needs.

The current library funding options for the libraries are public tax based funding. Other funding options are user based funding and private funding. The league had consensus that the primary source of the funding should remain tax based. Further the league felt the funding should be made predictable, adequate and sustainable with a continued basic state funding that was not tied so closely to locally matched funds.

The league had consensus that a state constitutional amendment should not be pursued to enable libraries to form their own tax districts.

Consensus was reached within the league to consider any of several local options to provide funding predictability for WV Public libraries.
1. Require governing authorities to fund libraries following local laws.
2. Increased property tax rates to fund libraries.
3. Including a defined level of funding to be for libraries in the excess levy elections.
4. Allow local governing bodies to fund public libraries by additional levies on property similar to the recent ambulance fee in Jefferson County.

State wide options endorsed by the league were:
1. Adjust the state school aide formula to support local libraries.
2. Designate a state tax to support libraries.

User fees were not endorsed by the league to largely fund libraries.

Adjourned 8:36 pm.