Southampton supervisors vote 4-3 for library funding

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COURTLAND—The chairman of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday cast the tie-breaking vote to restore partial funding for a youth program director at the library in Courtland.

“This is worthwhile and we do need the program,” said Chairman Dallas Jones.

Supervisors deadlocked on whether to give the library $11,300 to pay someone to oversee the program.

Voting against the funding were supervisors Walter Young, Ronnie West and Anita Felts. Supporting the motion were Moses Wyche, Walt Brown and Carl Faison.

Yvonne Hilliard-Bradley, director of the Blackwater Regional Library system, told supervisors that the county cut $31,992 from the 2009-10 budget for the Walter Cecil Rawls Library in Courtland. In response, the library laid off two part-time assistants and its 30-hour-a-week youth services programmer, nearly cutting the staff in half. It was also decided to close the library on Mondays.

The year prior to the funding cut, the library provided 164 programs for 5,409 participants. The following year, there were 51 programs administered by one of the remaining employees, which drew 2,814 participants. That employee has since left.

“Those programs are close to non-existent,” Hilliard-Bradley said. “We’re asking for a mid-year budget enhancement to hire a 20-hour youth (program director). I hope you will think carefully about bringing children and teen programs back to the library.”

County Administrator Mike Johnson said the money could come from the county’s savings.

“It’s healthy, but it’s not plentiful,” Johnson said.

Brown noted that if the Courtland library is not supported, it could go by the wayside.

“I realize times are tight, but if the board can see fit, I would like to give them help,” Wyche added. “The children are the ones who suffer by not being able to do things when they go to the library.”