At what cost? Hancock County Library System over built, over staffed, over politiced…

OK folks, I know “politiced” is not a proper word but the notion fits. There has been a ton of ink spilled on the Hancock Sups wanting to see change in the Hancock Library system going back to the prior Board. By now everyone should know the drill as it has repeated itself a few times, the first with the old Board of Sups. County funding is cut and one or more of the various branches close or have their hours of operation drastically reduced. The people that depend on the library system howl and funding is restored. The current Board of Sups took a better approach by opting out of an outdated interlocal agreement which funds the system. The clock is ticking away to September 30, 2017 when the funding agreement dissolves and the interests behind the library system are making tons of noise.

Despite massive amounts of reporting from both the Echo and the Sun Herald including an oped which contained what I’d term a blanket endorsement of the County system, the public has yet to hear why County officials are motivated to see change in how the Library Foundation conducts its business. That changes today and it comes courtesy of a document on the County’s website which was given out to the municipal governments that participate in the interlocal agreement.

It was put together by County Administrator Eddie Favre and contains comparative operational information from both his research and from the library system itself. The devil in the details becomes self evident, the Hancock Library system is overstaffed by a 2-1 ratio compared to its peers including and especially its peers in Mississippi. The library system is overbuilt, again by a 2-1 ratio to its peers nationally and in the State. More disturbing to me is it lags in certain technological measures including ebooks. It’s all in the 38 page pdf sent out by Favre on behalf of the County Sups.

Its at this point that I’d urge the more thoughtful folks reading Slabbed to put yourself in Supervisor Scotty Adam’s shoes. A mile of paved country road cost over $120,000 these days with the price of everything going up while tax revenue is stagnant. Before you even talk about raising taxes it behooves most elected officials to see if they can gain some money by right sizing the various departments and component units. That is clearly what is driving the Supervisors here and the political interests that are driving the library system are pushing back in order to maintain the status quo. The numbers make this much crystal clear, the Hancock Library system is no bargain for the taxpayers, especially those in the Cities of Waveland and Bay St Louis that pay for the bloated library system twice on their annual property tax bills.

5 thoughts on “At what cost? Hancock County Library System over built, over staffed, over politiced…”

  1. The Library Staff are arguing for their jobs and I understand that. They say they are worried about the Library but everyone should know that to insure the viability of it may mean closing a few locations based on demographics such as population and traffic etc.

    I also believe in user fees for some of the services. It is not a day care and a place to get a free newspaper and a cup of coffee. It needs to be approached in a business manner not a complete burden on the taxpayer who does not use it. From no property tax, no fund raising tax and 100% taxpayer support it is becoming a burden. Remember we already fund school libraries for the children.

    Non Profits are supposed to back fill public needs where government stops with non taxable private funding and no property tax. When it becomes 100% dependent on the Tax Payer it is no longer back filling but becoming another government bureaucracy.

    1. The amount of administrative staff was stunning to me.

      There are some very innovative things public libraries can do in partnership with local schools with some even providing STEM tools like 3D printing mixing the concept of business incubation with the traditional scholarly activities traditionally supported by the library systems.

      The greatest institutional resistance there is would be resistance to change.

  2. First order of business seems to be dispelling the rumor that the Library is going to close. A great job has been done playing to the emotions of the public on that one. I don’t remember any of the public bodies wanting to close a library except Diamondhead, and that got taken care of quickly.
    Next is for the local governments to ” do their due diligence” as to the everyday operation of our Library System. The ” due diligence” theory was suggested to the Bay St. Louis City Council
    last week regarding their School Board appointment. No reason not to apply it to our other tax supported entities!!

  3. There are several employees well past retirement age. Their bloated salaries would free up money easily.
    I’m old. I retired. It’s someone else’s turn.

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