MADEIRA BEACH — The saga of Treasure Island's on-again and off-again support of the Gulf Beaches Public Library is sticking its fellow five-town library consortium members in a place it hurts — their budgets.
Last year, Treasure Island refused to pay its full share of the library's expenses and pulled out of the consortium.
The city later changed its mind, but not before angering the other towns and many of its own residents — and getting the library's director fired and several library workers laid off.
Now a proposed new contract between the member towns is giving them all a new case of heartburn.
At issue is a section of the new contract that says any member town that withdraws from the library consortium and later changes its mind must pay all back fees before it will be allowed back in.
If the dispute can't be resolved and Treasure Island again backs out of the library consortium, the other towns — Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores — will again be left with the bill.
All the towns must agree on the terms of membership in the consortium before Oct. 1 when each town's quarterly payment is due.
Treasure Island, because of its larger population, is budgeted to pay $77,420 for its 2009-2010 membership in the library. Madeira Beach, the second largest member, is expected to contribute $46,200 to fund the library's operations. The remaining three members, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores, have correspondingly smaller shares of the library's budget, which is also supported by county library funds.
"It is not our intent to back out of the library," Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard stressed Friday.
He said, however, that his city commission wants significant changes to the agreement proposed by a special ad hoc committee set up six months ago by all five towns.
On Tuesday, Treasure Island approved its own version of the agreement proposed by the ad hoc committee.
Treasure Island's version says only that a returning town would be required to sign a new agreement approved by the other towns. Other changes suggested by the city's attorney were mostly minor, according to Silverboard.
Madeira Beach Commissioner Steve Kochick may have put the consortium's dilemma best when he said: "All we care about is the money. Unless they (Treasure Island) change how much each community has to pay. Then we have an argument."