Aug 22, 2013 6:41 PM by Chris Welty

Iberia Parish Residents Fighting to 'Save the Library'

Residents in Iberia Parish are fighting to make sure money isn't cut from the library's budget.

The Iberia Parish council will vote to introduce a proposition diverting funds from the library's current budget to fund the levee district.

The levee tax failed earlier this year. Now, one council member is proposing to fund the failed project by taking money from "successful" budgets.

Brenda and John Thomas use Iberia's Public Library on a daily basis.

"I like to read the book a lot, use the computer and I do some digital artwork also," said Brenda Thomas.

The couple isn't sure what they'd do if the services they use were no longer available. John Thomas says, "This is the only place we can come to. It's close to home and everything."

Library Director Kathy Miles says they offer classes and services people may not get elsewhere. Miles says the proposed cuts punish those who are fiscally responsible.

"We try to keep up with technology and we don't buy the latest and greatest, but we try to target services that best benefit our community," said Miles.

The library board in 2011 and 2012 took in revenues of approximately $2.45 million per year. More than half of that is unspent. Right now, they have more than three million dollars in reserves.

Those on the save the library campaign say if their funding is cut, it isn't their last chapter.

"If we have to make cuts, we'll try to do something that would have the least amount of impact," said Iberia Parish Library Board President, Roxy Blanton.

It's unclear what services could be cut. Miles says the library could reduce hours or close certain branches.

Iberia Parish councilman David Ditch says there isn't an effort to cut services or undercut the Iberia Parish libraries.

He wants to use the library's reserve account to help fund a levee district. He says, "While our community is unprotected and we face potentially massive insurance costs-- there is no reason for taxpayer funds already collected to just sit in a bank account when they could be used to help mitigate these risks."

On September 11th, the Iberia Parish Council will hold a public hearing to discuss the fate of the library's budget.

Chris Welty



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