County libraries lose out on Arts & Rec grant funding

County libraries lose out on Arts & Rec grant funding

By Peggy Mackenzie

In a split decision, the Greenbrier County Commission voted 2-1 to approve allocating the Arts and Rec Committee’s recommendations for the 2015-2016 grant cycle, leaving no funding for the county’s libraries.

The A&R Committee had set aside $90,000 to be split among the libraries in their recommendations before the commission. However, prior to the vote, Commissioner Lowell Rose recused himself, stating that the hotel/motel tax, from which the A&R funds are drawn, cannot be used to fund libraries since the purpose of the fund is to be a tourist attracting self-perpetuating resource. Funding libraries does not fit the definition and so is not applicable, Rose said, putting the commission in a quandary since the county is mandated to support its libraries. The problem is, nothing was budgeted for the libraries in the county’s recently approved 2015-2016 budget.

Commission President Mike McClung held that libraries are a gray area so far as the A&R funds are concerned. He stated he supported the position that libraries are, in fact, an arts and recreation resource. That view was substantiated in a previous consultation with the county’s attorney, Patrick Via, who saw no reason to prohibit using A&R funds for libraries. Until the restrictions for the A&R funds are more defined, McClung said he would opt to include libraries in the allocation.

Commissioner Wood Hanna may have been on the fence. He opted to compromise by moving to approve the funding allocation, but to exclude the line item that gave $90,000 to the county’s libraries, adding the clause, “with the intent to look at legislation changes before the end of June to get more rulings.”

The vote changed Rose’s recusal, who, with Hanna voted for the motion, leaving McClung pressed to oppose.

In other business:

• Public Hearing to discuss a proposed Small City Block Grant application for PSD #2 brought Region Four Executive Director John Tuggle and Thrasher Project Manager Wayne Morgan to the meeting seeking the commission’s approval to proceed with the water project to bring water to Channco, Rainelle and out to Sam Black. A $10 million project, the grant would bring in $1.5 to the table for the project.

Commissioner Rose brought their attention to a plan, begun since his election to the commission, for a long-tenn county-wide interconnecting water supply project. He asked whether the western end project could be a first phase of that plan. Tuggle and Morgan replied that alternatives were still available, and affirmed that this larger plan could make for a better project. The commission approved the grant unanimously.

• Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill received approval for two new security guards, naming Bruce Sutterby and Jeff Beane as his recommendations.

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