Polk commissioners agree to trimming Four Corners' library funds
BARTOW, Jul 27, 2012 (Menafn - The Ledger - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Polk County commissioners agreed to cut back on spending for library services in the Four Corners area, and during a budget work session Thursday, said that they want more information from nongovernment groups seeking county funds.
It was County Manager Jim Freeman's first meeting with commissioners since he delivered a proposed 1.31 billion budget earlier this month.
Freeman told commissioners he was looking for direction on a handful of issues as well as any changes commissioners propose.
The library funding decision relates to an agreement Polk County has with Lake County to provide library services in the area along the U.S. 27 corridor north of Interstate 4, where no other public libraries exist.
The nearest Polk County public library is in Haines City.
Freeman said the problem is that the formula Polk County had been using to compensate Lake County for serving the 5,139 Polk County residents who use that library just north of the county line is more generous than the ?formula Polk uses to pay city libraries inside the county.
He said if commissioners wanted to equalize the contributions, the amount Polk will pay Lake County will be 73,421 instead of 193,368. The money comes from the North Ridge Community Redevelopment Agency funds. Previously, money also came from the library impact fee fund, but that has been suspended.
Freeman said if Polk pays Lake County less money, Lake County officials said they may reduce hours at the library.
The decision provoked some discussion.
Commission Chairman Sam Johnson, who worked in schools in the area before coming to the commission, said it's a sensitive issue.
"From the perspective of the people who live up the area, they still wonder what Polk County does for them," he said.
But Commissioner Todd Dantzler, who represents that area of the county, said there were no services there when people bought homes there.
Another issue is the 945,000 in funding requests for grants from nongovernmental organizations ranging from arts and animal welfare groups to .private human services organizations.
Commissioner Ed Smith said he'd like to know more about how dependent some of the organizations are on taxpayer funds for their operations.
"We should be very, very judicious about how we spend taxpayer funds," Smith said, arguing these groups should be encouraged to raise funds from other sources.
Commissioners decided to let some of the organizations make presentations at an upcoming budget meeting to make their cases for public funding.
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