Editorial: Havelock draws its line in the sand at library

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 03:55 PM.

As the Havelock Board of Commissioners and city staff worked on the 2014-15 budget, the numbers simply didn’t add up.

They were looking at having to raise property taxes. They were looking at having to make cuts. One of those cuts was the Havelock-Craven County Public Library.

For years, city leaders have complained about what they have said is an inequity in funding. The city traditionally provided about 35 percent of the library’s operational budget, with Craven County providing about 65 percent. That 35 percent is a far higher percentage than cities such as New Bern, Cove City and Vanceboro have traditionally contributed to libraries in their cities.

City leaders have argued that the library belongs to the county and should be paid for through county taxes, and since city residents also pay county taxes, Havelock residents are in essence being asked to pay twice for the library.

It’s a logical argument, and one the city has used in other funding debates with the county, such as over ambulance service as well as parks and recreation.

But logic can be thrown out of the window as it relates to a public library. Few people can argue that a library doesn’t serve citizens. The Havelock library promotes literacy through its youth programs. It offers opportunities for high school and college students to do research for their school papers and projects. It allows Internet access for residents doing everything from genealogy to job searches.

But still, many residents don’t have a need to use the library and some may wonder why they have to pay for something they don’t use.

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