Town Ready To Talk

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FARMVILLE – Town officials are ready to meet with their Prince Edward County counterparts to discuss a request from the local library board that it retain the proceeds from the eventual sale of the former library building at 217 West Third Street.

“The board of supervisors has received the same letter (see page one story),” Town Manager Gerald Spates told council members during their February meeting last week, “and they are referring it to their library committee, which would like to meet with us and discuss it jointly. And this is different from the original agreement we have concerning the library so I think it's important.”

The Town, the County and the Library Board agree about reinvesting the proceeds back into the library but Town Manager Gerald Spates told the Herald on Tuesday that the Town would prefer that the proceeds be held in a Town or County account, with allocations made as agreed-upon library needs arise.

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“Yeah, I think that's exactly what we talked about,” Spates replied when asked during a telephone interview. “We don't want to see the library board take that money and pay for other things” and then have the Town and County asked for additional appropriations.

But, he hastened to add, “nobody's mad at anybody.”

The Town and County are simply going to meet to discuss and respond to the Library Board's request, he agreed. Town Council members, Donald L. Hunter and Sally Thompson comprise the Town's Library Task Force committee.

The original Memorandum of Agreement stipulates that “the current library building shall be sold and…proceeds of (the) sale shall be used to purchase furniture and fixtures for the new library building.”

The Town and County provided the funding to construct the new Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library at Wilck's Lake.

The January 19 letter to the Town and County from Patty Pugh, chair of the Advisory Board of the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library, requests that the board “retain the proceeds” to “apply the proceeds of the sale to current and future needs of the library,” with the library board providing both governing bodies with an annual statement detailing disbursement of the funds for those needs.

In an interview on Friday, Spates said he also wants the proceeds to be used for the library's needs.

“One of the main things in the (original) deal was that when the old building was sold the money would be used to purchase furnishings for the library but the bids came in so low for construction that the furnishings were included in the bids,” Spates said.

“We want to see the building sold and the money should be used to pay for the equipment needs that the library has listed,” the town manager continued.

“I have talked to Wade (county administrator Wade Bartlett) and I'm not speaking for the County but I would hope that town council would agree to set the money (from the sale) aside to pay for the equipment needs,” Spates said during the telephone interview, “and not ask the taxpayers to pay again.”

The town manager also stressed on Friday the good relationship the Town and County have with the Library Board.

“We're not trying to hold the library up,” Spates said, noting the acclaimed new library built by the Town and County, which also appropriated an additional $35,000, he noted, to extend the popular library's hours.

“We support the library a hundred percent,” Spates stressed.

The town manager said he believes the proceeds from the sale of the former library building should be used “to offset some of these (library) expenses…I think we should stick with that agreement…

“…We're not at odds with the library…I think we need to clarify things,” Spates said, “and work together and sell the building.”

The Town definitely wanted the former library building sold as quickly as possible.

“The Library Board needs to get rid of that building,” Spates said, adding that “it's not doing any good sitting there empty.”

That building was appraised for about $400,000, according to Spates, but that was before the economy went into recession.

“Is that price,” Spates wondered, “still realistic?”