Lyon County: Closing libraries not on the agenda | NevadaAppeal.com

Lyon County: Closing libraries not on the agenda

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

Lyon County Library Director Theresa Kenneston is urging county commissioners to do everything in their power to avoid closing down the county’s library system.

Kenneston appealed to commissioners in a letter saying she only learned late last week about a Thursday meeting where the potential for shutting down the county’s five branches might be discussed.

“My plea for extreme advocacy to library board members, staff and patrons was based on an e-mail I received late Friday which I interpreted as a real threat, but I was unprepared for the outpouring of support we received,” Kenneston said Tuesday.

“If people wait too long to let their commissioners know, it’s usually too late,” she said.

In several e-mails received by the Nevada Appeal, concerned residents and library board members said they were equally alarmed by the news.

But Josh Foli, the county’s comptroller, said Tuesday that the library is not on the commission agenda, and that the concern expressed by library proponents was premature.

“My personal opinion is that this is a knee-jerk reaction,” Foli said. “The county commission has not discussed closing the libraries. The meeting Thursday is regarding prioritizing services. We are asking the board to give us a sense of direction about how to balance this budget.”

Lyon County is looking at a 15 percent shortfall for 2010-11 because of declining sales and property tax revenues, Foli said.

“There is no list and there is no proposal. The county manager has been talking about non-essential services, and we’ll be asking commissioners for a sense of what are essential services,” he said.

Counties must file tentative budgets with the state by mid-April.

Deborah Aquino, chairwoman of the Lyon County Board of Trustees, said it’s important that their voices be heard.

“We need to become advocates now, and not wait until it’s gone,” Aquino said.

“We know there are serious economic problems here and that they are impacting all departments, but we just want to make sure that the benefits (of library services) are weighed carefully before any extreme cuts are made,” she said.

“The economic and social impact (of eliminating the library system) would be devastating to our community. This is not how we in this county want to be known.”

Kenneston said every department was told to cut its budget. She said she cut her $1.2 million budget to about $1 million, and most of the cuts were personnel.

“We just want to make sure the voice of the people is heard,” she said.

The five library branches are located in Dayton, Yerington, Smith Valley, Fernley and Silver Springs.

The Lyon County Commission meets at 9 a.m. Thursday at 27 S. Main St. in Yerington.

Discussion and possible action on the fiscal year 2010-11 budget, to include staff direction on budget preparation, is among the last of the 24 items on the agenda.