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Library board selects new director, approves new budget
MacKinney promoted from assistant director role
Lisa MacKinney
Lisa MacKinney

Lisa MacKinney will oversee a better than $2.62 million budget that eliminates worker furloughs as the new director of the Hall County Library System.

The library Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved MacKinney’s ascension from assistant director to replace Adrian Mixson, who retired from the director’s post recently after about 10 years on the job.  

“It means the world,” said MacKinney. “I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what I would like to do, to form my goals.”

MacKinney said she has developed strong relationships in the community and is excited to dive in.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what everybody wants and what we can do,” she added.

MacKinney said she hopes to stabilize hours of operation for all branches, re-open book drops, purchase new materials and pursue independent revenue sources, such as a passport program.

Additionally, MacKinney said the library system is preparing for renovations to the main branch in downtown Gainesville that will be funded with $2.5 million in special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII, revenue.

The board also signed off Tuesday on its budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins today.  

The approved budget brings a measure of relief to stop the financial hemorrhaging that has taken place within the library system in recent years.

Two branches were shuttered in Hall County as the library system’s budget fell to about $2.65 million for the 2015 fiscal year from about $3.7 million in 2008, an almost 30 percent drop.

The new budget ends furlough days for workers, expands hours for the Gainesville and Spout Springs branches, and includes small raises for about a handful of employees who are assuming or have assumed additional roles but have not received step increases.

But work remains to get the library system on firmer footing for years to come.

For example, the new spending plan, which is about $30,000 less than the fiscal year that just ended, includes the use of about $104,000 in reserves, out of $229,000, to balance the budget.

“It’s not ideal,” said Mark Pettitt, who was voted in Tuesday as the new board chairman for the 2016 fiscal year.

Moreover, the library system will lose about $80,000 in funding from the state over the next 12 months.

The system will not fill an administrative executive position as a result, Pettitt said.

But with new leadership, plus an extra $100,000 in operating funds from Hall County (for about $1.83 million overall), library board members said the path to long-term sustainability and viability is clearing.

“I’m really excited about the future of the library system,” Pettitt said.

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