County Commissioner Dave Hardy said finding an extra $3 million to bail out the library is not possible.
"That would require us to make very Draconian cuts in our county budget," he said. "We've cut all the fat out of our budget, and we've cut it down to the bone."
Hardy said an extra $3 million for the library system amounts to more than 6 percent of the county's $48 million annual budget. "We've never had 6 percent excess in our budget in the 13 years I've been here," he said.
The County Commission does maintain a $4 million to $6 million stabilization fund, a kind of rainy day fund the county relies on to pay the bills when tax collections are slow or to help with emergencies like last summer's derecho storm. Hardy said raiding the stabilization fund would be a "foolish thing to do."
Carper said the county's payroll alone amounts to about $1 million every two weeks. If the county raids the stabilization fund to help out the library, he said, "Who would bail out the county?"
Carper said finding extra money to fund the library system would require cuts in basic services like the sheriff's department, Metro 911 and county court system. Those are cuts county officials are unwilling to make.
"I don't understand the thought process of the Board of Education, but I'm not on the Board of Education," Carper said. "The whole thing is ludicrous, but the Legislature did this, and the Legislature needs to fix it."
Carper doesn't think county taxpayers would be willing to pay for another excess levy for library service either, adding that many taxpayers feel they're taxed out.
Still, Albert said library officials will explore a tax levy and asking for more funding from the county and city.
"We're going to ask, in any event," he said. "We need to exhaust all options."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.