Last Tuesday, while the rest of the country was voting – and waiting for voting results to come back in – Grayson City Council quietly met in special session with one item on the agenda; funding for the Grayson branch of the Carter County Public Library.
Council voted to continue funding the library with quarterly payments until some other way of fully funding the library system can be arranged. Ideally this would be with either general funds from the county fiscal court, or with a county wide library tax as Grayson Mayor George Steele has advocated for.
While we would support a county wide library tax, there is less chance of the county passing a new tax than there is of Carter County residents supporting the use of existing county tax dollars – another option proposed by Steele – to pay for the library. With the already implemented county payroll tax increase, county funds could increase with growth of the local economy. But that is going to take support for local businesses from local residents. It’s also going to take support for projects, like the Grayson Sports Park and Olive Hill Welcome Center, that can help draw more visitors to Carter County to spend their money here.
It also means drawing outside investment to Carter County. We’ve all been waiting patiently for Braidy Industries to do more than put up a fence and some signs. But even if that aluminum mill becomes a reality as we hope it eventually does, it doesn’t mean we can or should stop seeking other industry to locate in and near Carter County.
Some of the things that attract businesses, though, are quality of life amenities that will appeal to their employees and executives. Things like welcome centers that promote outdoor activities, sports parks and playgrounds where their children can play, and – yes – libraries.
Carter County has great natural beauty. We have creeks and a lake for kayaking, canoing and fishing. We have trails for hiking and riding. We have gorgeous vistas along our country backroads that give motorists a chance to see nature in all her seasonal glory; from the flowering of spring to the green of summer, and from the golds and browns of fall to the snowy, stark beauty of winter.
The sports park will be open for business next spring. It will offer not only a place for kids to play competitive games, and for travel teams – and their spending money – to visit, it will offer playgrounds and spraygrounds and sensory gardens for local families to enjoy when their kids aren’t participating in organized sports.
The amenity that Carter County was in risk of losing was its library – or at least the Grayson branch. Carter County librarian Christy Boggs told Olive Hill Council at their last regular meeting that the library was currently operating with an $8,000 deficit while trying to maintain both branches. That was with COVID-19 restrictions limiting library use to no-contact bagged items left outside for patrons. When COVID restrictions eventually lift there would be no way for the library to maintain both branches without the funding, so the decision from Grayson Council was very much needed.
We commend council for voting to resume library funding, and Mayor Steele for showing the leadership necessary to bring the issue back before council.
We agree with Steele that a better way to fund the library is needed. But until that funding source can be secured the funding from the city is necessary to keeping the library solvent. That solvency benefits the continuation of adult education opportunities, student study and recreational opportunities, and making Carter County an attractive place to visit and to locate your business.
It was a brave move given the strong stance Grayson has taken in regards to county funding for the library, and the entire county owes them thanks for doing their part to keep the library going during these difficult times. The Carter County Times is proud to be able to say “thank you” to Mayor Steele and council for stepping back up to the plate and doing what was needed for the library.