Oneonta council hears from library board and juvenile probation

Library board chair Carl Frey updated the Oneonta City Council on services and uses of the city facility. Frey noted the city took control of the library in 1947 and that the library continues with the same number of employees (four full-time and one parttime) it had when he first moved to the city 25 years ago.

Despite having the same number of employees, the library has tripled its circulation over the period. In that same time, it has morphed from a “book and periodical repository” into an invaluable center for information and technology. Frey listed numerous services including low-vision reading, interlibrary loan, audio books, ebooks, a Spanish collection, a varied array of computer technology and programs, and a conference room available by reservation.

Citing 2010 statistics, Frey revealed almost 5000 city patrons, nearly 4000 of whom were 18 or over. In addition to its city users, the library accommodated nearly 12,000 county patrons, over 9600 of whom were 18 or older. Frey contended that these users bring revenue to the city in the form of additional business purchases.

Frey’s only stated request of the council was that the library be added to the city’s regular meeting agendas to keep councilors aware of the services the library performs. His written remarks included a reference to the city’s 2013 budget preparations. In that area, he noted the library received $260,000 of the city’s total $6.39 million budget in 2012, or 4.06 percent. He also explained the library’s necessity of reducing operating hours with the small staff.

Although Frey’s presentation may have hinted at the need for an increased appropriation, juvenile probation officer Meleah Davis made a clear request. Davis explained that due to state cutbacks in funding for her agency, the local office faces a reduction in personnel unless additional funds can be secured. Davis provided details on some of the services provided by juvenile probation and explained what the loss of Teresa Hall, the receptionist and administrative assistant, would mean.

She noted that some have asked why a state agency should be asking county and municipal bodies for funds as well as other private sources. Side-stepping that question somewhat, she addressed it as the reality. While not asking for a specific commitment amount, Davis sought consideration in the city’s 2013 budget, which should become effective Oct. 1.

In council action, members agreed to invite bids for a new outdoor warning siren and retro-fitting of some existing ones. They also set a called meeting for budget action later in the week.

All members (Mayor Darryl Ray and councilmen Hal Buckelew, Mark Gargus, Tim McNair, Ross Norris, and Danny Robinson) attended the Sept. 11 meeting. More than 50 Oneonta High School senior government students observed the session along with several other city employees and residents. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.