CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Faced with a 40 percent loss in their operating revenue, Kanawha County library officials said Tuesday evening that they will immediately ask the county and city for more money.
But Charleston and Kanawha County leaders say that isn't going to work.
Members of the Kanawha County Commission don't plan to cut funding for the Kanawha County Public Library, but neither can they afford to help bail out the library system.
Last week, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Kanawha County Board of Education was not obligated to provide funding to the library system, ending a decade-old dispute between the school board and library officials over funding. Money from the school board makes up about 40 percent of the library's $8 million annual budget.
County library board president Mike Albert said library officials are still trying to figure out how to make up for the loss in revenue, which amounts to about $3 million a year.
Other than asking the city and county for more money, options for making up the lost funding include asking school officials to reconsider the funding cut, asking county taxpayers to approve an excess levy to fund the library and lobbying the state Legislature for a long-term fix to the problem.
"We need to try everything we can," Albert said.
"We put up a significant amount now," said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. "We've given them almost $9 million in the past 10 years."
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he was appalled that the board of education would no longer fund the library, but said there isn't much the County Commission can do to help. He said the commission already provides the library system about $3 million a year, and has helped fund branch libraries and other projects.
"I don't know where in the world [more money] would come from," Carper said.
Although neither city nor county officials intend to cut funding to the library, neither can they afford to pay any more, they said.
"I don't think we should give any more or any less," said County Commissioner Hoppy Shores.