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Beach cities settle library funding flap

The compromise gives Treasure Island a 10 percent deduction and refund. The contract would be for three years.

By ANDREW MEACHAM
Published February 29, 2004

MADEIRA BEACH - Five beach cities appear to have reached a peaceful resolution over funding that will keep the Gulf Beaches Public Library consortium intact.

A committee of mayors, library board members and citizens on Wednesday agreed to retain the population-based formula but give a 10 percent price break to Treasure Island, which pays the most of the five member cities.

While the five city commissions must approve the new arrangement, committee members expressed optimism.

Treasure Island Mayor Mary Maloof credited Charles Parker, a Madeira Beach commissioner and her outspoken opponent, for a suggestion that led to the armistice.

The way Parker explained it, library committee meetings were going nowhere. Members were reeling in numbers and formulas, even getting confused by them. And no one wanted to give an inch.

"It was a last-ditch thing," Parker said of his idea to shave 10 percent off Treasure Island's contribution and have the four smaller cities make up the difference based on their populations. "I was always a total hardliner on this, based on my constituency."

The agreement would start Oct. 1 and last through Sept. 30, 2006, when a renegotiated contract could begin. The deal includes a retroactive $9,579 to Treasure Island as compensation for overpaying in the current fiscal year.

Treasure Island and the other four beach cities (Madeira Beach, Redington Shores, North Redington Beach and Redington Beach) had been stalemated for months. Treasure Island, the largest of the group with 7,000 residents, objected to a funding formula based on population.

"We were ready to walk," Maloof said.

Contributions from the five participating cities make up more than half of the library's $425,000 budget. Treasure Island is paying $95,790 for the current fiscal year. Madeira Beach, the next largest contributor, pays $61,523.

For now, the days of wondering whether the library will be able to meet its budget, or if Treasure Island will have to reimburse its residents for library cards, are over. For that, committee members voiced their relief.

"We couldn't do without them," North Redington Beach vice mayor Richard Bennett said of Treasure Island. "And, in theory, they can't do without us."

If the cities approve, the committee will assign an attorney to draft a three-year contract.

[Last modified February 29, 2004, 01:15:11]


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