The City of Winder has brought in more than the $200,000 it budgeted this fiscal year for a real estate assessment to help fund the Winder Public Library’s operations and plans to use those excess revenues for outdoor improvements to the property, which the city owns.

The city council plans to hold a vote at its Tuesday, Feb. 4 voting session to remove the $200,000 cap on assessment revenue the city puts toward the library. Mayor David Maynard told the council during its Thursday, Jan. 23 work session that the city has brought in more than $224,000 through the assessment. Beth McIntyre, director for the Piedmont Regional Library System, told the council outdoor upgrades are needed to the building, including its parking lot and landscaping. The issue was also raised by councilman Sonny Morris at a Jan. 16 work session.

In 2018, the council voted to switch its library funding method from General Fund revenues to an assessment — boosting its annual contribution by $50,000 — and voted to pay back any excess revenues to the city’s enterprise funds to cover transfers that were made to the General Fund in previous years to fund the library.

Of the $200,000 the city now contributes, $15,000 goes to the regional office and the rest goes toward library operations with the bulk of that paying staff salaries, McIntyre said. The library, which also gets another $140,000 from Barrow County, has a $339,000 budget but limited funds for outdoor work, McIntyre said.

The library underwent extensive interior renovations in 2017 with the help of more than $500,000 in state money that increased its space, but the outdoor appearance of the building has long been a concern, including a parking lot that is deteriorating in some places, she said.

The city can only fund improvements on the property through the assessment revenue and not from General Fund or enterprise fund revenues under a service-delivery agreement with the county, Maynard said.

While the council has the ultimate say over how the excess assessment revenues are spent, there was general consensus among the council that it should be spent on property upkeep, and members encouraged library leaders to provide their input at the upcoming meetings. City administrator Donald Toms said the city should be able to have pricing information for parking lot repairs available by then.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business at its Jan. 23 work session, the council:

•agreed to add to the Feb. 3 work session and Feb. 4 voting session agendas proposed right-of-way repairs to Betts Street at Candler Street to smooth out some dents in the asphalt. That cost estimate from Precision Paving came in at $40,175. Council members said they would also like to see a quote for adding additional asphalt to improve pedestrian accessibility and the intersection.

•reviewed the agendas for its upcoming goal-setting workshops for 2020. Those meetings, facilitated by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 7 and Feb. 19 at the Winder Community Center, 113 East Athens St. The council is scheduled to hash out several overarching goals — including improvements to existing parks and park infrastructure, marketing and promotion of the city and communication with citizens, community events and utilization of facilities, stormwater infrastructure improvements, and downtown economic development and revitalization among others. The council then plans to hold a community forum to get public feedback on those goals and any others it should be considering.

•discussed a proposal to have more regular work sessions each month but ultimately decided to stick with the current schedule for the time being. Under the current schedule, which was approved late last fall, the council continues to typically have a work session the first Monday of each month and a voting session the first Tuesday of the month, followed by an additional work session on the third Thursday of the month. The council previously held rotating committee meetings the first four Thursdays of each month but opted to scrap that format. Any additional work sessions will be scheduled as necessary when time-sensitive matters arise, the council agreed.

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