Chester library gets city funding

CHESTER–Chester City Council agreed Monday to continue its support of the Lynn Murray Memorial Library, but at a rate $1,000 less than last year.

Council voted 4-0 to allocate $2,500 in coal severance tax revenue to the struggling library for the current fiscal year (2017). The amount, although $1,000 less than last year, is what the library had budgeted, said Councilman John “Woody” Woodruff.

“If the city contributes, then maybe they can get more state money,” Councilman Mike Dotson said.

Library officials told council at its Oct. 17 meeting that state funding is threatened if local funding is cut off. The library faces lost revenue in the amount of $11,690 this year from multiple sources, they said.

The library’s budget for fiscal year 2016 was $82,749, most of which came from the state grant-in-aid, carryover from the previous year and the Upper Hancock United Fund. Other sources were fines, fees, donations and the city of Chester.

In fiscal year 2015, the city gave the library $4,000, but coal severance tax collections have steadily declined since then. The amount approved on Monday was out of a total of $6,962 in collections, the balance of which will go into the general fund.

Woodruff said the other two coal severance recipients–the Chester Park Board and the historic preservation fund–don’t have the immediate need that the library does.

“After further discussion … the city park has the money to make it through right now,” he said. “We can always revisit it.”

Dotson said the city would be willing to donate space to the library for fundraisers held in the Chester Municipal Building.

Also Monday, council:

* Learned that the municipal building may need a new phone system. The current system has been experiencing glitches and is not compatible with three used phones that council wanted to purchase at a cost of $70 each.

Dotson, who also is the city building manager, said the city will be pricing new phones and presenting a report to council. “It’s going to be expensive,” he said.

The city also is in the process of adding a fax line for the Chester Municipal Court clerk’s office.

* Discussed a project to wrap all the light poles on Carolina Avenue with cling wrap for the winter. The cost to wrap the first four feet of all 62 poles is estimated to be $100.

All the poles received a fresh coat of paint over the summer.

* Tabled action on the formation of a Finance Committee because Councilman Brad Anderson was absent.

* Learned that city residents are putting trash in with their fall leaves, which is hampering collection efforts by the street department.

Street superintendent Steve Shuman, who also sits on council, said he recently discovered two birdhouses inside a bag of leaves that someone had left for pickup.

“It’s beer cans, beer bottles, water bottles–you name it,” he said. “It’s getting worse.”

Shuman said the city may have to suspend its leaf pickup service if people continue to mix trash in with their leaves. City workers take the leaves to area farms to use as compost.

* Learned that another Tri-State Business Expo is scheduled for April 7-8, 2017. The event, which had 68 vendors earlier this year, will be held in the municipal building.

* Learned that the theme of this year’s Chester Hometown Christmas on Dec. 3 is the “Magic of Christmas.”

Children’s activities will be held from 10 a.m. to noon inside the Badgley Pavilion of Chester City Park. Vendors will be set up along Carolina Avenue. The parade is at 3 p.m., with lineup at 2 p.m. on Virginia Avenue.

Window decorations will be judged differently this year. There will be three prizes–Kids’ Choice, Mayor’s Choice and People’s Choice.

For more vendor information, call Kristi at 330-383-3940.

For more parade information, call Wendi at 304-670-2989.