responds to story
on library funding
I am writing in response to the October 12, 2017 Northside Sun article about the funding problems of the Jackson-Hinds County Library System. In the article, Library Director Patsy Furr and Northside Sun writer Anthony Warren inferred that the current financial woes of the library are the fault of Clinton. They based their conclusion - that Clinton was freeloading on the system - because we did not set aside specific millage like Jackson and Hinds County. This is absolutely wrong.
The crux of the article was that taxpayers in Jackson are double taxed (Jackson millage and Hinds County millage) while the rest of the county is only taxed once (by Hinds County). Speaking only for Clinton, this is false.
Clinton is also double taxed, with the Hinds County Millage and a 2.69 mill budgeted to pay for the construction of the Quiesenberry Library. This means Clinton pays $600,000 per year and will continue to meet that responsibility until 2029. Also, the city is responsible for paying the liability insurance on the building and the upkeep of the exterior of the building and the landscaping. Over the last eight years the city has spent approximately $22,000 per year in insurance payments and another $12,000 per year in maintenance and upkeep expenses.
Let’s look at some numbers. Based on the article, Jackson has budgeted $14,700,000 since 2010 or $2,000,000 per year. Clinton’s construction note over the same timeframe equals $4,200,000 or $600,000 per year. Since the library system is open to every man, woman, and child in Jackson and Clinton, how does the per person payment compare. By simple division, the 172,000 Jacksonians pay $11.62 each to meet the budgeted millage. Clintonians pay $24 each to meet the budgeted millage. Of course, the county figure would be added to these totals.
I will Now address a number of other false statements made in the article;
1. “And despite being asked personally by the library systems executive director for assistance, Clinton officials have refused to help.” Not true. Ms. Furr has never ask me to add additional millage to Clinton’s budget for the library system. Also see point 4 below.
2. “I stopped e-mailing about it. When I send e-mails and don’t get a response, I give up,” Executive Director Patty Furr said.” Ms. Furr, the last e-mail in my computer from you is dated 10/13/2017 concerning the doors, nothing about additional funds.
3. “My first year here, I tried to negotiate a usage agreement with Clinton and I couldn’t get one,” Furr said. “The mayor and (city) attorney wouldn’t sign off.” Ms. Furr, as Paul Harvey would say, “And now, the rest of the story.” It is true the city and the library system talked about a contract specifying each party’s responsibility. I have a copy of an agreement signed by the previous Clinton mayor dated May 16, 2012. The contract is not signed by the executive director of the Jackson Library System (that would be you). Additionally, you wanted me to sign a new contract. The city attorney and I sent three versions of the documents to you in 2013, none were returned for my signature.
4. “Furr has not approached either city in recent years, in part, because she said the funding agreement with county doesn’t allow it.” Ms. Furr, you admit you have not approached Clinton for years because the funding agreement does not allow it, yet are upset we are not paying more? Really?
5. “The monies also go to providing armed guards at all Jackson locations, Furr said.” Ms. Furr, maybe that is why Clinton is the most used library in the system – it is a safe city.
Ms. Furr, I will make a deal with you. Let the Jackson Library System take the $600,000 p/y construction note from Clinton and I’ll budget 1.5 mills to the library system. A mill in Clinton is valued at $203,000. So, in exchange for the library taking the city’s $600,000 yearly note, you gain $304,500 for library operations.
Mr. Warren, come on man – I worked with you on many articles when I was a Hinds County Supervisor. You are better than this.
Philip R. Fisher, Mayor
City of Clinton