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Council mulls library contract

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The Martindale Community Library may be forced to look for an alternative source of funding next year as Martindale council members mull the current contract in place between the library and the city.

Martindale City Councilwoman Mary Paul raised concern over the city’s contract with the library, which will provide funding through the 2019-2020 fiscal year, at an Aug. 6 budget workshop.

The contract is especially important to the library because it allows it to receive accreditation from the state, meaning it can apply for grants, be part of the library database and even borrow books from other municipal libraries, eliminating the need for its residents to drive to San Marcos or Lockhart.

As part of the agreement, the city is slated to provide $18,000 in funding for the library in next year’s budget. The contract stipulates that the library must be free and open to the public, that city officials are granted use of the facility and that library officials provide monthly board minutes and financial reports. 

Paul raised concern over whether the library was holding up its end of the agreement to provide monthly financial reports concerning how the library is spending money budgeted though the city.

“This money is already in the contract,” Paul said of the $18,000 currently budgeted. “The point we need to make is are we going to continue this? Do we like how it’s being done? Do we like how it’s being spent? Is the report filed in a timely manner? Are they following the contract?”

“I just want to make sure that what [the city is] paying is what they’re using.”

Martindale Community Library volunteer Librarian Carol Deviney responded to Paul at the meeting, saying the library had routinely provided all the documentation stipulated by the contract.

 “We have not failed on this yet, so I’m not sure where this is coming from,” said Deviney, who works anywhere from 20-30 hours a week for free to help run the library. “I’m not sure why you’re all the sudden saying I’m not giving that information. I’ve been very transparent.” 

Martindale City Administrator Jared Anable said that because the money was provided through a contract with the city, he should have had insight on how those funds were being spent.

 “I have not reviewed these things yet,” he said at the budget workshop.

Anable said on Monday he has since reviewed the financial records submitted by the library and said everything required had been submitted on time. He said he would send his findings to Martindale city councilmembers for their review.

According to Deviney, the library’s accreditation status would be in peril if the city decided to no longer provide funding once the current contract comes to an end, meaning the library would not only lose funding through the city, but would also lose access to state and federal grants.

Deviney said the library would still be able to pursue grants outside the state and federal level, but they would much smaller. 

Since the library has been open, she said, it has brought in almost $30,000 in grants, with all of the larger grants coming after it received accreditation.

For more, see this week’s edition of the Post-Register.

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