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Library director keeps up push against budget cut

SoVaNow.com / March 12, 2018
Halifax County/South Boston Library Director Jay Stephens is continuing to rally opposition to a proposed $10,000 library funding cut contained in Halifax County’s draft budget, but he has backed off a claim the reduction will cause state and federal aid to dry up.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Stephens criticized a plan by Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz to reduce county library funding by $10,000 in the coming budget year. In his statement, Stephens claimed diminished local support could jeopardize state and federal aid to the system, possibly triggering up to $125,500 in overall losses and jeopardizing the operation of one of the two county library branches.

On Thursday, Stephens said his initial assessment of the draft budget’s impact was incorrect.

“The Library of Virginia has informed the library that the proposed $10,000 cut in funding to the library would not jeopardize state aid and other resources,” wrote Stephens in a follow-up statement. “The reason given was that other county departments and agencies will also receive cuts.

“The proposed county budget does list cuts for other departments, including the library. At the same time, some departments will see increases. Of those departments proposed for cuts, some are looking at very miniscule reductions of a few hundred dollars, as compared to thousands of dollars for the library.

“This is hardly a fair, across the board reduction in funding to all departments,” Stephens wrote.

“While the library’s state funding appears to be safe it is still important for library supporters to lobby against the proposed $10,000 cut, which would mean fewer resources and programs for the community,” Stephens said.

The draft budget proposed by Halasz calls on the Halifax County Board of Supervisors to provide $180,000 in library funding for the new budget year, down from $190,000 in the current budget. The new budget takes effect July 1.

Supervisors are struggling to satisfy the funding needs of local departments and agencies, but one county supervisor cautioned against thinking that Halasz’s plan for lower library funding will be the last word on the subject.

“I don’t think that Mr. Halasz’s budget will be the final budget for the county,” said J.T. Davis, who chairs the board’s Finance Committee. “Until we have held a public hearing and heard from our constituents, we will not have a final budget.”



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