PRC Library System Director requests an increase in funding

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tuesday, Carol Phares, Director of the Pearl River County Library System, approached the Poplarville Board of Aldermen to request an increase in funding to the library system.
This year, Phares is requesting $29,000, which is $5,000 more than was dispensed last year, she said Wednesday.
The library system receives funding from the state through the Personnel Incentive Grant, which is executed by the Mississippi Library Commission, she said.
“For fiscal year 2017, our system received a $12,000 cut from the Mississippi Library Commission,” Phares said. “That is about three percent of the library’s salary budget.”
Last year, Poplarville’s longtime librarian retired after 22 years and Eden Nitcher took her place. However, Nitcher left in May for a higher paying position, Phares explained. After five weeks, Nitcher’s replacement, Candice Benoit also left for a higher paying position.
Phares said her strategy with hiring a librarian for the Poplarville branch, because of low pay, involved seeking someone “fresh out of library science school” who can use the job as a stepping-stone.
However, without the $5,000 increase, Phares can only offer a librarian a $27,000 annual salary.
“I looked up information from the U.S. Census Bureau and discovered that the poverty threshold for one person in Pearl River County is $28,950 annually,” she said. “The library is not going away, it’s morphing and we need personnel who know technology and electronic resources. I can’t do that on the funds I have.”
In a letter to local funding authorities, Phares wrote that the library offers a plethora of services including reading materials, answers to reference questions, cultural events and exhibits and offers programs for children, which includes the summer reading program.
The Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library has a librarian with a master’s degree on staff who is authorized to proctor college and technical school level exams free of charge, Phares wrote. The libraries also offer complimentary Wi-Fi access, a Topaz Magnifier for the visually impaired and inter-library loan services, Phares said in her letter.
She plans to bring her concerns to the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors at their meeting on August 17 at 9 a.m.
Calls to Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise about the matter were not returned by press time Wednesday.

In other action:
• Kim Marmalich, CPA, Cr.FA, Director of Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens and Favre PLLC, Certified Accountants and Business Consultants presented a summary of the city’s official fiscal year 2015 final audit report.
“It was an unmodified opinion,” Marmalich said Wednesday. “That is the highest level of assurance that we can offer. It means that their financial standings are materially correct. There were no significant findings or weaknesses noted.”
• The Board approved the adoption a life insurance policy for employees, O’Neal said. The managing firm will be Acuity Group in Hattiesburg. The Board approved a policy in the amount of $25,000 with Hartford, which will cost the city $9 per employee per month, O’Neal said. Last year, the total cost per month per employee for medical, dental and life insurance benefits totaled $570.35. The budgeted amount for fiscal year 2017 is $571.87 per employee per month, O’Neal explained.
• The board also approved annual budget amendments to the fiscal year 2016 budget. The total amount was $147,910, O’Neal said. These were expenses incurred during fiscal year 2016 that weren’t included in the budget, she said. Some of those items include a hotel feasibility study, engineering fees for street paving study, new cemetery plan and repairs to the exterior of the building located at 101 N. Main St., O’Neal said. About $22,000 was used to purchase computer equipment for the police department and around $16,000 was spent to make an emergency repair to the transmission of the fire department’s ladder truck. There was also $24,000 that went towards the purchase of a new pick up truck for the fire department. However, that money came from the sale of another vehicle, O’Neal said. Other items included $3,000 worth of repairs to the library’s copper roof, $11,900 was used as the city’s final payment toward hanger improvements at the airport.
“According to state law, anytime the budget is more than ten percent of what is budgeted, the city has to advertise those expenditures,” O’Neal said.
• The Board also approved a rate increase for residential waste disposal, O’Neal said. The new rates released by Waste Management are $13.82, she said. The city currently charges $13.20 per household. The Board increased the residential monthly rate to $15, which will affect 980 households, O’Neal said. In previous coverage, Alderwoman Shirley Wilshire said the increase will prevent them from having to make a price change every year if Waste Management prices increase.
The next Board meeting will be held on August 2 at 5 p.m. in the boardroom at City Hall.

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