West Point City Council is awaiting a final report from library consultant Joe Forsee before deciding how to fund the service next year.
Council heard personally from Forsee on Tuesday night at its regular work session, after holding a “listening session” with residents Monday night. Forsee did reassure the council that, thanks to the interstate compact law, it is legal for West Point to support library services in Alabama.
Council is looking for a definitive, long-term plan on how to fund library services after years of splitting its allocation between Hawkes Library in West Point and Bradshaw Library in Valley, Ala. The debate Monday night was sometimes divisive between supporters for the two libraries, although there is a sense that all residence would like to have both libraries as options.
“It’s a pleasure to be in a town that cares so much about its resources,” Forsee told the council.
Forsee said the city isn’t legally required to provide library services, but it’s traditionally been accepted that most cities do. About 10 years ago, House Bill 489 delegated the providing of library services to the counties.
Councilman Jerry Ledbetter asked what the county’s legal responsibility was to West Point. The city is in both Troup and Harris counties, but the majority of residents don’t use the Troup-Harris regional library system, which is funded with their tax dollars.
Forsee said he’d go into more detail in his report, but the “short answer” was the county is likely meeting its requirement just by having the libraries in LaGrange in Troup County and Hamilton in Harris.
“The problem is, you have to be able to get to the service, and for some that is impossible,” he said.
Forsee’s final report will outline the options the city has for library services, along with pros and cons of all plans.
“We thank you for your insight and look forward to your final report,” Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said.
Also Tuesday, City Manager Ed Moon said he’ll be asking for council’s blessing on getting requests for proposal from solid waste companies on contracting out trash pickup.
It’s something he’s been suggesting for several years, but Tuesday night he showed council hard numbers of how the city is losing money on the service.
In the current budget, the expense is budgeted as $505,600, but revenues are just $341,000, meaning the city is taking a $164,000 loss.
“That is the reason we continue to talk about this,” he said.
Moon said many small cities are now contracting out their garbage pickup. Hogansville contracts with C&C Distribution of LaGrange.
To break even, the city would have to raise garbage rates an average of 67 percent, which drew audible gasps from those in attendance Tuesday night, along with some council members.
If garbage pickup is outsourced, the city will still pick up leaves and limbs and no employees would lose their jobs. Those who aren’t used for leaf and limb pickup would do other tasks in the public works department. Moon said there would be no “forced retirements.”
“We can use their help (in public works),” he said.
The request for proposal would include the costs of citywide curbside containers, which currently aren’t used in West Point, along with “premium service,” door to door for those elderly or disabled residents who can’t get their trash to the curb. The proposal also would include a recycling program.
Council will look at the request for proposal to be sent out to companies at its regular meeting Oct. 14.