CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Commission President Kent Carper supports putting a levy to help fund the Kanawha County Library on a ballot.
Carper made the statement he would support placing a levy on a ballot in the future during a meeting on Thursday where Kanawha Library board president Mike Albert was present.
Albert claimed he was not on hand to ask for additional funding from the commission and was only present to discuss the library's current financial situation.
The Kanawha County Board of Education is no longer required to provide funding to the library after the state Supreme Court struck down the 1957 law forcing the agency to do so.
And although the board has agreed to continue funding the library up until the end of the fiscal year, there is no allocation in the upcoming fiscal year's budget, Albert said. This has left the library scrambling for around $3 million, or 40 percent of its annual budget, he said.
Albert said he hopes the school board will continue to fund the library voluntarily. He will meet with Superintendent Ron Duerring today.
The commission already provides about $3.2 million in property tax revenue to the library, Carper said.
"Putting it on a levy gives people the chance to decide if they want to pass it," he said. "It's voluntary."
Carper would not criticize the board for not including funding for the library in its upcoming fiscal year budget. However, he did say he believed the library played an essential role in the community.
"I support the library system as a citizen and a grandfather," he said.
Albert pointed out that a levy might be the library's best chance to recover the lost funds. However, any money from a levy would not make it into library coffers until July 1, 2014, he said.
Commissioners also approved up to $180,000 to help the town of Pratt pay off debt. This allocation will make the takeover of the town's water system by West Virginia American Water possible, Commissioner Dave Hardy said.
The funds will be used to retire part of the water system's debt. However, Carper and Hardy hope to get the debt lowered by asking the Kanawha County Regional Development Authority to waive all or part of $80,000 owed by Pratt.
Carper expressed his frustration that the authority's board had already voted not to waive the debt. He told board president Damron Bradshaw that the $80,000 allocated by the Regional Development Authority was the commission's money.
The Regional Development Authority collects a surcharge on any water project it helps fund. The $80,000 came from this surcharge, Chief Fiscal Officer David Fontalbert said.
However, the authority should have used that money to pay off debt on that project, he said. Instead the commission had paid on the debt allowing the authority to keep the $80,000, Fontalbert said.