Community members speak up for Athens-Limestone Public Library after $30k budget cut

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – Eighty thousand dollars a year keeps the Athens-Limestone Public Library in good standing.

That money, funds programs and stocks bookshelves.

Library personnel said the Limestone County Commission gave them a nonsensical reason for a thirty thousand dollar budget cut.

“We hadn’t had an annual audit since 2016,” explained Paula Laurita, the library’s director. “But according to the state we only have to be audited every five years. So our next audit actually isn’t due until 2021”

A handful of community members stopped by a recent county commission meeting to ask the commission to rethink its decision.

“We have great books but its more than that,” Laurita added. “It’s the people that gather here. It’s the people that work here, and how we come together to be the community’s center.”

Now Laurita is trying to figure out what the hit means for the facility.

“It will affect the number of books that we can buy,” she said. “It will affect staffing for programs.”

Laurita said the library is about to lose an employee and with the funding cut,  they won’t be able to hire a replacement.

“We are looking at doing our best, and we’re not planning on cutting our hours at this point in time, or programs,” she said.

Library staff said the lack of money may mean employees have to take on more tasks, but it won’t hurt their mission.

“We symbolize equal access to information and education,” said Laurita. “We are the community hub, we break down all those barriers.”

The Limestone County Commission Chairman, Collin Daly, said he would sit down with WHNT News 19 next week to break down the funding decision.

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