Editorial: User fees could help some with library funding

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 04:05 PM.

We don’t have a crystal ball, and even if we did, we’re not sure that we would believe it anyway, but we’re not sure a quick solution to the funding issues involving the Havelock-Craven County Public Library is on the horizon.

We could be wrong, but Havelock and Craven County commissioners have approved their respective budgets for 2014-15, and the $27,503 that library officials say is needed to provide the same services it did a year ago is not likely to appear out of thin air from either board.

The issue goes beyond providing a few extra dollars for the library. It’s part of a deeper dispute between Havelock and Craven County officials that has manifested itself in the library funding issue. Havelock officials have complained for years that the county fails to adequately fund city services that are used by both county and city residents. The two sides have argued over recreation funding, money for ambulance services and the library.

On top of that, city leaders have complained about what they have said is an inequity in library 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 towns.

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.

No matter the debate, the library is still short about $27,500, the result of which means fewer books, magazines and newspapers in the library, and a reduction in operating hours.

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.

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