Library Board responds to Police Jury request regarding millage rates

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson Parish Library Board one of the agenda items addressed was a request made by the Jackson Parish Police Jury to recommend a millage rate for the fiscal year 2021. This was in partial result of the Police Jury wanting feedback on the bantered about transfer of excess funds the Library has to the Solid Waste Department. It also was designed to give the Library Board an opportunity to let the Police Jury know what is needed for continued growth in operation and future projects planned. Following much discussion the Board gave JPL Director Floyd Know authorization to draft the following letter to be sent to JPPJ President Amy Magee. 

Re: 2021 Millage Recommendation
Dear Mrs. Magee,

The Library Board met at yesterday’s regular meeting to consider a recommended library millage for 2021. There were a lot of concerns brought up which would affect the direction of our budget. We recently had a needs assessment done by the State Library which led us to request a more comprehensive assessment by Mr. Wayne Coco, a Louisiana architect with 30+ years of library experience. This assessment will include code and security issues for both branches, along with
answering any questions of other needs throughout Jackson Parish. Unfortunately, this report will not be ready in time to justify any increase in funds.
On the flip side, there is currently a push to take any “excess” funds from the Library to fill in gaps in the Police Jury’s other budgets. It was suggested at the May 25″‘ Police Jury special session that “an election to amend the statute for the Library so that anything above a certain threshold will go to the Police Jury to be managed.” This is reminiscent of exactly what occurred in 2007 which put the Solid Waste department in the position it is in today. Therefore, with as many good reasons to raise as there are to lower the millage, it was agreed among the Board to recommend our millage be left at the current rate of 4.9 mills.

Floyd Knox
Library Director

Further concerns about the so called, “excess” funds being appropriated by the Police Jury were expressed as well as wonder if the public understood why retaining the funds are critical to operation. 

“First of all I don’t think it is fair that the Library is the only place where the Police Jury seems to be looking to gather funds,” said Board member Paula Essmeier. “Why are we being penalized? We have an excess becasue we monitor our money closely and are frugal about making expenditures. Board members don’t even get paid for their service. We all serve as volunteers. How much money could be saved if other departments followed suit? 

“Another reason we have excess money is that several projects were put on hold due to COVID. Coming soon are revisions that have to be made to both branches as required by the state fire marshal.  Other projects have been planned as well.  If we have the proposed $1.5 million taken from us it will relegate us to function on the money gained through operations, which gets smaller each year. We not only would be looking at having to scrap some improvements that would be made the loss of funds would make it difficult to offer some of the same services we do next year.

In other action considered by Mrs. Essmeier, Mrs. Crawley, Mrs. Massey (President), Mrs. Nunn, Mrs. Standley and Mrs. Cooper it was decided to move forward with accepting debit/credit cards for payments of fines and/or services in amounts of $5.00 or more. In ongoing business it was reported that the Library was waiting on a site survey where a proposed storage building would be erected and that a few minor changes needed to be made to the new bookmobile which will most likely delay delivery until August. Discussion also continued about the Children’s Outdoor Museum which will features activities for special needs children.


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