Board to vote on library consolidation

Two towns still checking into it

By TOM WOERNER
For the Record
Posted 7/1/22

Harnett County commissioners heard details Tuesday of a plan that, if approved, will consolidate almost all of the libraries in the county under a Harnett umbrella.

Angier and Erwin town officials …

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Board to vote on library consolidation

Two towns still checking into it

Posted

Harnett County commissioners heard details Tuesday of a plan that, if approved, will consolidate almost all of the libraries in the county under a Harnett umbrella.

Angier and Erwin town officials have approved the merger and the Coats Board of Commissioners is set to discuss it at its next meeting July 14. Dunn officials have not yet voted on the matter.

The consolidation is expected to add extra funds and resources to the small libraries.
Harnett County Library Director Angela McCauley presented the plan during the board of commissioners regular work session. Following a period of discussion and questions commissioners agreed to put the item on the agenda for consideration at its regular July meeting.

The matter was not listed on the most recent agenda available online as of press time.

The plan calls for all employees of the municipal branches to become county employees when the agreement is approved.

The towns will continue to maintain ownership of the library buildings that are also used for other town activities. The towns will maintain outside maintenance of the facilities, including landscaping work, while the county will handle the inside maintenance of each facility.

The transition process will take place gradually, with each municipality paying for two thirds of the cost to operate the libraries in the 2022-23 fiscal year in order to ease the transition costs.

McCauley’s plan calls for considerable staff additions at the Harnett County main branch site. There also will be a new custodial position that will travel between all of the library branches to perform cleaning services. The starting salary for that position will be $25,546.

There will be at least two part-time assistants added at the main branch to accommodate the additional work load of managing the other library branches.

McCauley assured the board she will spend county money conservatively.

“It is going to be trial and error until we find out exactly what we need,” McCauley said. “We are not going to hire any positions that we don’t need.”

Commissioners asked for a more detailed budget plan before approving the consolidation agreement.

Board Chair Lew Weatherspoon, formerly the mayor of Angier, said he was particularly concerned about Angier’s requested 13% budget increase from last year’s allocation from the town.

“I would like to see us send the budgets back and see if we can get some of the fat out,” Weatherspoon said.

Commissioners, who spoke on the issue, seemed to suggest they would vote to approve the merger once budget issues are resolved.

“I want the consolidation to go through but I don’t want a lot of extra expense for the county,” Commissioner Barbara McCoy said. “Additional expenses might be natural with the transition but if we can see the individual line items it will help us.”

Animal shelter study

Also on the consent agenda for that agreement will be the expenditure of $126,000 for a needs assessment study for the Harnett County Animal Control department. The assessment is largely to determine if a new facility is needed in addition to the one currently operating south of Lillington.

“The facility we have is older and we need to look at improvements,” Harnett County Community Development Director Barry Blevins said.

The study is being performed by Shelter Planners of America. Blevins stressed the study is to determine needs and not to design a new shelter.

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