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Hall wants more control of library, its employees

Move may allow for eliminating furlough days, but could have other drawbacks

POSTED: September 27, 2013 12:15 a.m.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday to look at bringing library employees back under the purview of the county administrator.

“The county itself has been off of furloughs for a year, I think,” North Hall Commissioner Scott Gibbs said. “I would like the board to consider that maybe we could bring the (Hall County Library System) back underneath the county administrator (Randy Knighton) to where you can get the employees off of furlough. Get (the libraries) back open full time.”

The board approved the county attorney’s looking at how that could be done. It would need to be an issue taken up via state legislation.

“I would like to work towards (it) pretty quickly, because I know that the local legislative delegation is already meeting on legislation for the late January, early February term,” Gibbs said.

South Hall Commissioner Craig Lutz agreed that time is of the essence.

“I know there are different benefit packages; there’s different retirement things where we have restrictions,” Lutz said. Having more “hands-on direction” will be an asset, he added.

Library Director Adrian Mixson said he was unaware of the county’s decision.

He explained that the library operates under the library board, with each commissioner selecting two board members, and under state regulations.

“There are certain restrictions on how you can spend (state funding),” Mixson said.

“We have furloughs because we are required to maintain some kind of fund balance to pay bills,” Mixson said, adding there are currently 10 furlough days for library employees.

Mixson said several library employees participate in the state retirement system, which is the same retirement program as for teachers. He said he believed employees would rather have furlough time than lose those benefits.

“What that will do will drive away most of the employees who have a commitment into the teachers retirement system,” he said.

“The easiest way to get library employees off of furlough is to just give us a little bit of money.”

The library is financed mostly by the county, which contributes 80 percent of the system’s budget, according to commission Chairman Richard Mecum.

Mecum said there are a lot of questions behind how the county library system runs.

“I think through this whole thing we’re going to try to figure out, too, can the library be run more successfully?” Mecum asked.

“Could the budget be spent more effectively, more efficiently?” he added. “I think that’s what we’re about to get into. I think the people of Hall County deserve an answer.”

Gibbs said he thought there would be some “cost savings” with his motion.

“I do know the county’s insurance is cheaper than what we pay the state,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs brought up the motion at the end of the meeting, under other business to be considered. The actual motion itself was not included on Thursday’s agenda.


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