Texas County Officials Renege on Library Subsidies

Texas County Officials Renege on Library Subsidies

By a vote of 3–2, the Grayson County, Texas, Commissioner’s Court rejected the request of six city libraries to split a $24,000 nonresident-patron subsidy between them that was earmarked for libraries in the county budget but which had not been distributed. Instead, Judge Tim McGraw told the six directors who had come to make the request at the December 1 meeting that the money will remain in the county’s general fund because public libraries are “a city service,” according to the December 2 Sherman Herald Democrat.

The undisbursed FY 2004 subsidies were originally intended to be divided between the Denison and Sherman public libraries, which serve the county’s two largest cities and have attracted the most nonresident users. However, Denison PL Director Alvin Bailey told American Libraries, he and Sherman Director Jacqueline Banfield declined the funds this fall after discovering that McGraw had unilaterally halved the FY 2002 subsidy and that he planned to zero it out altogether for FY 2005. Explaining that the Commissioners Court “wasn’t interested in discussing the matter,” McGraw said that the two libraries decided, “If we’re going to take the pain, let’s take it and get it over with.”

In response, Denison and Sherman library officials imposed a $40 cardholder fee for anyone (except schoolchildren) living outside their respective city limits and established reciprocal borrowing between the two cities. Consequently, Grayson County’s six other municipal libraries began seeing a rise in usage, which Whitesboro Public Library Director Virginia Garvin pointed out to county officials before they were denied the funding. When Commissioner Carol Shea noted that adjoining counties subsidized nonresident usage, McGraw replied, “And several of them have called us to say they are watching what we are doing.” 

Posted December 8, 2003.