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Beaches library to cost Treasure Island residents $100 a year

MADEIRA BEACH — An attempt by officials of the Gulf Beaches Public Library and Treasure Island to reach a compromise over funding of the library failed Monday.

The result for Treasure Island residents is that in one week they will have to pay a $100 fee per household to be able to use the Madeira Beach-based library.

For the beach library, it means making up a $107,000 budget shortfall created when Treasure Island decided to cut property taxes to a level that eliminated funding for the library in the city's 2008-2009 budget.

For more than 40 years, Treasure Island, as well as Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores, have financially supported the library.

By doing so, the beach communities guarantee that their residents can use, at no cost, not only the Madeira Beach library, but any public library throughout Pinellas County.

"We are going on the assumption that Treasure Island is out," library director Jan Horah said Tuesday.

The library's Board of Trustees voted Monday to transfer $26,783 from its reserves to cover the first quarter payments that normally would have come from Treasure Island.

The board also rejected a request from Treasure Island Commissioner Phil Collins that residents of his city be given a one-month "grace period" before they have to buy library cards.

The library's Web site warns Treasure Island residents that, beginning Oct. 1 they "will no longer have free access to the libraries in Pinellas County and will have to purchase their cards at $100 from the library, annually."

And unlike most other cities that do not have their own libraries, Treasure Island has no plans to reimburse its residents for the cost of library cards.

Collins hopes to change that. He said Tuesday he will ask the city to dip into its reserves to pay part or all of the $100 library card fee.

"I will tell my board that the library is not remotely interested in budging even a least little bit," Collins said.

He and Mayor Mary Maloof attended the library board's meeting Monday, hoping some kind of compromise could be reached that would allow Treasure Island and its residents to retain membership in the library.

"I feel terrible about it," said Maloof. "We have Treasure Island residents who can not come up with the $100. A lot are parents whose extra money is going to pay for increases in food and gas."

During the library board meeting, Collins suggested the library should cut its $513,000 budget, partly by trimming salaries.

"That made me very angry," said Denise Adis, a library board member representing Madeira Beach. "One member said she was insulted by Treasure Island cutting us out of their budget and then wanting us to cut more of our budget — with no guarantee they would come back."

Madeira Beach City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr., who also attended the library board meeting, offered his city's help in reviewing the library's budget.

Meanwhile, a special marketing committee was tasked with encouraging Treasure Island residents to buy their library cards at the Madeira Beach library to ensure their money helps to replace the funds cut by their city.

Beaches library to cost Treasure Island residents $100 a year 09/23/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:18pm]
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