It’s only $50 a month, but it will make a huge difference for the Rhome Public Library.
That’s all library board president Janice Wilson asked for when she spoke to the city council at their meeting Thursday evening. The council voted unanimously to grant the $600 in a lump sum, immediately.
It will help pay utility bills – but city support is what Wilson was really looking for.
Previously, because the library received no financial support from the city but about $20,000 a year from Wise County, a quirk in state regulations caused it to be classified as a “very large library” – serving a population of 31,000 people.
“Since we only get county help, and all the other libraries in Wise County get help from the cities they serve, Rhome library is assigned all the rest of the county’s population,” Wilson explained.
Decatur’s library, by comparison, is only assigned about 6,000 of the county’s population.
Having city funding will allow the Rhome library to be reclassified as serving a much smaller population. That, Wilson said, will allow it to meet much more realistic requirements based on its size and services, and qualify for grants to improve those services.
The library is located in a 2,000 square-foot building at 265 BC Rhome Ave., is staffed by volunteers and is open just two days a week.
“The city of Chico gives its library about $1,000 a month,” Wilson said. “We’re not asking for that, and in fact, we don’t want to be responsible to the city for that. We just want $50 so we can go after some grants.
“If we can get the 31,000 population off of our report and get our accreditation, that will help immensely.”
MORE DUMPSTERS NEEDED
Norm Bulaich of Progressive Waste Solutions was at the meeting to talk about the need for more trash containers during the city’s recent two-day cleanup event.
“We didn’t have enough, and we couldn’t turn people away, so we put it on the ground,” said councilmember Charles Pennington, who presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Louis Godfrey. “It took a city tractor driver several days to clean it up. It was quite a mess.”
Company representative Norm Bulaich said better communication and anticipating the need would have helped.
“We apologize for it,” he said.
Pennington admitted the city thought they had enough dumpsters lined up for the last event – but the response was overwhelming.
“It’s confusing,” Pennington said. “One year you need three and the next year you need 16. It’s impossible to estimate.”
The city’s next two-day cleanup is Oct. 25-26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. They will be more vigilant to make sure only city residents take advantage of the event, and Progressive will work more closely with them to get the dumpsters delivered.
“Say [you need] five and give us the date and we’ll set it up,” Bulaich said. “If something happens and those five aren’t enough, we can bring a rear-loader.”
POLICE ACCOUNT ON HOLD
During his report, Police Chief Brandon Davis requested approval after-the-fact for a specific bank account the police department could use for training and other minor expenses.
The council recently declared three out-of-service squad cars to be surplus, and allowed Davis to sell them.
“I got $600 out of them, so I went and opened an account,” he said. “Wells Fargo required me to open it in my name.”
David requested the PD be allowed to use the account when other off-budget funds come in – such as income from the city’s impound lot – and let him use a debit card to pay for training and other miscellaneous expenses.
Pennington said any purchase that exceeds $250 would still require a purchase order. A discussion ensued about how the account would be carried on the city’s books and what kind of scrutiny it would come under.
Davis said the account would be classified as a petty cash account under normal oversight, under state law, by the city council and mayor.
City attorney Walt Leonard weighed in, saying having such an account for a department would be “improper.” And, he noted, impound lots can bring in a lot of money.
Councilmember Michelle Pittman said the $600 “needs to go into general fund because it creates an accounting nightmare.”
Davis, who said he had gotten policies on similar accounts from police chiefs of 40 other similar-sized cities, began to get frustrated.
“I don’t know why it’s a huge ordeal just in Rhome,” he said. “I think it’s a control issue rather than just an accounting issue. If an account has oversight, and you can account for every single dollar, why does it have to go into the general fund?”
Pennington suggested the council hold a workshop to hammer out all the particulars of how to manage the account, with the idea of possibly setting up petty cash accounts for other city departments as well.
The workshop will be held at 6 p.m., before the Oct. 28 council meeting starts at 7.
The council also:
- heard from Northwest High School teacher Kelly Broughton about the planned “Big Event” next April 18. She hopes to find 30 projects in Rhome for her students.
- decided to go forward with a Community Development Block Grant application for $275,000 to be used for a new water well or, if that’s not feasible, to remedy inflow and infiltration (I&I) projects in the city’s water and sewer system.
- heard from Dennis McCreary, a member/partner in Greater Community Church, about the church’s proposed purchase of a building at 109 N. Main St. The church, which started in Oct. 2013, meeting in homes, is planning on improving the property.
- heard a report on the fire department’s recent fall festival, which didn’t bring in much profit, but was termed a success because of the involvement and fun it brought to the city’s residents.
- voted unanimously to start meeting on the second Thursday and fourth Tuesday of each month, to provide more flexibility to developers and businesses coming to the community and needing council approval quicker than once a month.
- approved contracts with the Tarrant County Emergency Services District for mutual aid, with Wise County for fire protection/first responder service and animal control service, with Wise County Appraisal District for tax collection/assessment, and with Wise County for road repair.
- gave the fire department permission to sell the “quint” – an outdated ladder truck – and use the projected $10,000 it brings to remodel the fire station.