Next week, the Orange County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for another Assembly of Governments meeting with the Carrboro Aldermen and the Chapel Hill Town Council. Last time around, former Mayor Kevin Foy and Town Council members berated commissioners for not increasing the county's share of funding for the Chapel Hill Public Library.
Commissioners want no part of that next Thursday. They voted Tuesday directing County Manager Frank Clifton to negotiate with town management to set the new contribution level.
"There's some emotion attached to this issue, and it'll be resolved quicker with negotiations by the manager," said Commissioner Mike Nelson.
In recent years, non-Chapel Hill residents of Orange County have borrowed about 40 percent of the library's outgoing materials but the county has been paying only about 11 percent of the library's budget.
On Tuesday, Nelson suggested doubling the annual contribution to $500,000 might be a fair solution -- that would cover about one-fifth of the library's operating budget. Commissioners have declined to discuss contributing to Chapel Hill's $16-million capital expansion plans unless those plans changed to building a new branch convenient to Carrboro.
"We're always left holding the bag of how we are going to meet the needs of the rest of the county," said Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier.
Commissioners asked Clifton to negotiate with the town not only on the fiscal issue but also on creating a single-card system for use in both the town's and county libraries and on gaining a presence on the town library's board of directors.
"It's much more than just a funding issue that we need to talk about," said Commissioner Steve Yuhasz.