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Killeen: Residents vow to fight to keep library open

(Photo by Kathleen Serie)
(Photo by Kathleen Serie)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 8, 2016 at 10:42 PM CDT
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Time is running out for the Killeen City Council to balance the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017 budget, as they still work to overcome a nearly $6 million shortfall.

To help bridge the gap, they’re discussing a possible 30 percent cut to the library budget, which could mean closing the Copper Mountain Branch.

The library department’s current budget is an estimated $1.7 million. The proposed cuts would decrease it to around $1.2 million.

Thursday night, a group of about 20 people discussed how to keep the library open at the Killeen Friends of the Library meeting. They even started a petition to keep Copper Mountain open.

According to a handout provided by members of the group, the Copper Mountain Library averaged 390 visitors each day from January 2016 to August 2016.

Sherry Everett attended the meeting.

She is both a school librarian and a mother of four, and she said closing Copper Mountain would be a devastating loss to the community, especially students who use the facility often.

"And they loved that library, and they could utilize it when the school libraries closed, that's the library they were going to, and we just don't want to take that away from those kids,” Everett said.

Everett said she would be willing to pay taxes or a membership fee to keep the Copper Mountain Library open, but she said she can’t speak for the rest of the community.

People at the meeting encouraged everyone to contact their respective council member to voice their opinion.

“This is our town, and it’s our library, and we need to fight for it,” Everett said.

Some council members said they are committed to financing both Killeen libraries.

Others, like Richard Young say the budget cuts are one of the only options they have left.

"We either have to raise taxes, raise fees, or cut services,” Young said. “That's the only way we can stay in balance.”

Young said he does not want to see Copper Mountain close. He suggested other changes to accommodate the budget cuts.

"Maybe we don't operate six days a week,” he said. “Maybe each one of them operates four days a week and we stagger the hours of operation so that we continue to serve the entire public."

The council will vote to adopt the FY17 budget next Tuesday. Before that, they will discuss the proposed library budget cuts and other changes as individual line items.