05/30/10 — County takes on new role in library, funding

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County takes on new role in library, funding

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 30, 2010 1:50 AM

Wayne County and the city of Goldsboro continue to redefine services they offer and fund -- an ongoing process that several months ago resulted in the decision that the county would assume sole operation of the Goldsboro-Wayne Airport.

The budgets now on the table for the city and county continue that trend, adding the library system, animal shelter and tourism into the responsibility swap.

The changes continue efforts by the county to help ensure its municipalities are strong, County Manager Lee Smith said.

The county will drop the $30,000 it has been budgeting for tourism, but will fold the library into a county department. In turn, the city will eliminate the $174,000 it had been budgeting for the library.

The changes aren't expected to create much of an impact on either budget. The county, already the major source of revenue, will continue to appropriate $1.1 million for the library.

When the change occurs, all library assets and operations will be turned over to the county. It remains to be seen how the library board of trustees will be transformed into a board that will serve in an advisory role and not as a governing body.

Also, the city will cease its $24,000 annual donation to the county-operated animal shelter, but will give $75,000 a year over the next five years to the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance.

The changes will be effective July 1.

It is all in the name of streamlining operations and making them more efficient, said Smith and City Manager Joe Huff-man, who have been talking for several years about such moves.

Smith applauded the commissioners for their efforts to help the county's municipalities by taking over some services.

"It creates a more efficient system, a countywide system versus one that is segmented," he said. "We have definitely helped the city of Goldsboro with millions of dollars over the last five years. Mount Olive we have helped by $200,000 to $300,000 a year. We are trying to help them prepare for their future, too."

Smith said he often hears people talk about double taxes -- city and county. But the county supports its municipalities much more than many people realize, he said. Cooperation among government bodies leads to more efficient use of tax dollars, he emphasized.

He said the animal shelter is a good example.

"It's really a county responsibility, and (the city has) their own animal control in Goldsboro, so we are relieving them of that expenditure," he said. 'Basically we have handed (the city) a check July 1 of $200,000.

"We have some positive things in Wayne County, but Wayne County is only as strong as its biggest municipality. If Goldsboro is weak, I am weak because it says to industry coming in, it says to the base, that there are problems. There-fore, we are trying to help the situation by making Goldsboro stronger, too."

Joint discussion concerning the library and related issues have been ongoing for years, Smith said.

"You say 'Why have you done it this year?'" he said. "'Why in the world did you do it in the middle of a bad economy?' Because I know that by doing this with the library right now, I need to find efficiency over there. Either (Library Director) Jane (Rustin) is going to have to add people or I bring them over. I do some things to relieve her so (Human Resources Director) Sue Guy handles HR, (Finance Officer) Pam Holt handles finance, IT supports the IT department."

"It is something we have been talking about for a while," Ms. Rustin said. "Originally it was discussed as a gradual phase in. It is not anything that we haven't considered."

She said the library has a well-trained board she hopes will continue to serve for the time being. The board of trustees will be replaced with an advisory board, but how that board will be composed and how it will function are yet to be decided.

Ms. Rustin said she is excited about the change.

"I can spend more time on library matters and less on building issues and personnel," she said. "It is creating greater efficiency be able to focus on what we do as a library and not focus on areas where we are not experts."

She said Smith really understands the library and how it works "I am not going to tell you that I am going to see savings," Smith said. "What you are going to see within that department is better utilization of existing positions.

"Jane spends a lot of time on personnel and HR. That is what HR is for. Jane is a librarian. She is an excellent librarian, and she needs to concentrate on her craft and that is to get services out to the community."