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Flower Memorial Library to get more security

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In what was the only scheduled review session for the 2013-14 budget, the City Council agreed to spend more money on providing security at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library.

Library officials had requested the city provide enough money to have a security guard for all of the 65 hours the facility is open during the week. City Manager Sharon A. Addison had appropriated $33,000 to hire a security company for 40 hours. It would cost an additional $30,000 to increase it to the 65 hours, library staff said.

On Tuesday night, council members unanimously agreed to increase the hours from 40 to 45. The cost for the additional hours must still be finalized.

Council members also instructed Ms. Addison to discuss the issue with library officials and the police department to find other ways to improve the building’s security.

“I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t go in the library because it’s unsafe,” Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. said.

During the past few years, library staff have had to deal with such major incidents as finding a loaded gun in a restroom, several drug deals, a man selling urine from a dog for urine tests and numerous property thefts, they said. The incidents also have included fights between patrons, Library Director Barbara J. Wheeler told council members.

Mrs. Wheeler thanked the city for installing security cameras in the building. They have been a useful tool, she said, but they help mostly “after the fact” as evidence for police investigations.

During the nearly-three hour session, council members made only one other change to the $41 million proposed budget. They decided to cut a $38,000 SUV for the city fire department that would replace a 2001 Chevy Tahoe, with nearly 80,000 miles. That SUV is now used mainly as a vehicle for travel and day seminars.

Council members decided that the new vehicle was not a critical item.

They also agreed to spend $650,000 to begin a three-year process to replace about 7,000 water meters in commercial buildings and homes in the city. The new radio-operated meters would lead to eliminating two of four water department positions.

The new equipment will automatically read water meters. It is now done manually.

On Tuesday night, council members also scheduled a public hearing on May 20. That night, they are expected to pass the spending plan, which carries a 2 percent tax levy increase.

The spending plan would increase the amount to be raised by taxes to about $7.5 million. The projected tax rate would be $7.30 — or less than a penny increase — per $1,000 of assessed value. A taxpayer with a $200,000 property would pay $1,460, a little less than $2 more than this year.

The city must have a budget in place by June 1.

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