ALBANY, Ga. — With a number of unanswered questions facing interim Library Director Mike Dugan as he settles back into the job he held for 18 years, the Dougherty County Library Board voted Monday to put off discussing the library system’s FY 2014 budget until a special called meeting.
Dugan said he expects the budget, due to be presented to County Administrator Richard Crowdis by March 4, to be “by and large what we have this year and reflect any increases we’re aware of.”
The interim director said the largest increase will be $30,000 more in insurance costs.
“There are questions about looking at re-opening the closed branches (at Westtown and Southside), but I don’t think it would be fair to make a huge decision like that now with a new person coming in,” Dugan said. “I don’t think that’s something anyone would want to saddle a new director with.
“That’s going to be a complicated — and a costly — issue.”
The board also had questions about plans to renovate the county’s Central Library branch, a project that was sent back to the architect for a rebid when the board could not agree on a contractor for the $5.5 million special sales tax-funded project. Dugan said a mandatory pre-construction meeting was held recently, and a bid opening is scheduled for March 5.
Board member and County Commissioner John Hayes questioned whether the bid documents for the project included construction debris as a line item to be bid upon or whether the debris would be taken to the county landfill.
“I would hope that for a county project, this item would not be bid but taken to the county’s facility,” Hayes said.
Board Chairman Walter Kelley said Crowdis had indicated he’d like to see the debris taken to the county landfill and told the board he and counsel John Stephenson would discuss the matter with the county before bids were opened.
The library director also gave board members a usage report that shows overall library activity down slightly from last year, a fact that board member Brenda Hodges-Tiller suggested was partially due to the move of the Central branch to a temporary location on North Jackson Street to prepare for renovation.
Dugan’s report shows that 20,429 books were checked out of the Northwest branch in January, compared to 8,563 at the Central branch and 4,279 at the Tallulah Massey branch. However, computer usage at the Central branch, while down more than 40 percent from a year ago, was still slightly above that of the Northwest branch.
The board asked Stephenson to work on a memorandum of understanding with the Thronateeska Heritage Center for continued storage of archival and reference materials while construction is ongoing at the Central branch. Dugan said he’s pleased to see the one-of-a-kind material in a safe place.
“Speaking bluntly, I’m grateful Thronateeska has that material,” he said. “I guess because of cutbacks those materials were being used in an unsupervised setting, and that’s not something we want.
“You look in some of these books that I say 80 percent of are out of print, and Page 22 or Page 38 is missing where people, to keep from paying 15 cents for a copy, just tore the pages out. We have to try and find another library that has a copy of the book and make a copy of the missing pages.”
Dugan also told the board the system’s current budget, mostly because of unfilled positions, is around $150,000 under in expenses and $20,000 over in income.
“It’s really about where I’d expect it to be at this time,” he said.
The library system’s budget is $2,111,172.