The Twiggs County public library reopened Friday afternoon, but it will need more money soon to stay open past New Years Day.
Library officials learned Friday that they would receive $5,000 from the Twiggs County school board, and that infusion was instrumental in the 1:30 p.m. opening.
The new library had been closed since Tuesday during a fight over funding.
The librarys board of trustees voted shortly after noon to reopen. They also voted to reinstate Earl Dennard, who was on sick leave, as the board chairman.
The vote took place in a small kitchen inside City Hall. Twiggs county commissioners had just finished discussing the library closing at a budget hearing that started at 10 a.m. inside the commission chambers.
Though the discussion lasted almost two hours, the commissioners systematically broke down most of the librarys financial situation, reviewing invoices and bank statements.
Commissioner Tommie Lee Bryant said he received a call from the school board superintendent that the library had a $5,000 check waiting for it. The money came from the school boards scheduled contribution from July 2012 to June 2013. Library trustees were not aware that money was available until commissioners brought it up.
All five members of the library board were present at Fridays county commission budget meeting. Two of them stood in front of the commission and answered financial questions.
The countys new library was built using a $1.15 million state grant and a $600,000 insurance payment from the loss of the previous library building in a fire. It opened earlier this month.
Thomas Jones, director of the Middle Georgia Regional Library, who helped oversee the state funding of the Twiggs County library construction, provided a summary of funds in the construction bank account. After outstanding debts are paid, he said, the library will have about $19,000 left over.
Jones told the commissioners, however, that he would feel uncomfortable using that money for anything other than paying for the completed construction.
We didnt close the library
Commissioners Donald Watson, Bryant and William Bond dominated the library discussion at the budget meeting.
They questioned why the library board of trustees voted to close it before consulting with the commission.
Bryant noted that previous commissioners had approved the countys contribution to the library for 2013, not the current five-member board.
Were getting a lot of bad press for something we didnt do, Watson said.
A woman sitting in the audience questioned the commissions decision not to vote to provide the library money right away.
The money is here! Bond said, slamming his fists on the table.
Bond told the woman the commission had successfully debunked the idea that the library has no money. If they need more to operate for the rest of the year, he said, the commission would have to advertise and hold a public hearing before making that decision.
Thats the law, Bryant said. We cant jump up and give you money because you come here. We have to do it by law.
Were going to fund everything once we get the accurate figures, Bond said. We will always fund the library.
Dennard said he will try to work with the commission to make sure the library stays funded.
We have to maintain open lines of communication, he said.
The library board also voted Friday to submit invoices for operating costs through October that have not been paid yet.
The $5,000 may be enough to operate the library until Jan. 1, but only if the county commission pays for salaries, rent and water for September and October, Dennard said.
The Twiggs County Commission will meet Monday at 9 a.m. for another budget meeting. Commissioners plan to work on the 2014 county budget, but they will have to discuss the librarys unpaid invoices.
The payments are not a formality, Commissioner Donald Floyd said.
To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 478-744-4382