West Point City Council was simply there to listen Tuesday to residents’ concerns, in the first of two “listening sessions” coinciding with its 2013 budget preparations.
“We’re not here to debate the issues,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson IV, saying the information would be passed along to city staff as the budget is prepared.
Most of the concerns of city residents centered around funding of the local libraries. West Point has grappled in the past with how exactly to support library services, since the city straddles Troup and Harris counties and is adjacent to Alabama. The city gives an annual appropriation – and plans to again this year – to the Hawkes Library in West Point and nearby Bradshaw Library in Valley, Ala.
Two residents advocated for the status quo, particularly for continued support of Bradshaw, since Hawkes is limited in the amount of support it can offer.
“I’m an advocate for public libraries,” said Trudye Johnson, who has lived in the city for seven years. “The other libraries are not easily accessible.”
The LaGrange Library is 20 miles away and Harris County’s library is 23 miles away from West Point, she said.
“We should continue to support (Hawkes and Bradshaw) for as long as we have them,” she said.
John Tidwell also urged support for Hawkes and Bradshaw.
“It’s incomprehensible to me to not support the library,” he said. “It’s a real public service institution.”
Resident Jothaniel Zeigler said he was there to support the city’s efforts for youth services. He was concerned, however, with the city’s recreation facilities being used by Point University.
At least one other resident has questioned in recent weeks the city’s use of special-purpose, local-option sales tax to renovate its recreation sites for the college’s use.
“If city money is being used for (the renovations), then the citizens are being denied that service,” he said.
Zeigler said the city should focus instead on getting affordable housing into the area to entice people to move to West Point.
Council will hold a second “listening session” at noon today at City Hall before its first official budget hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. A second hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 27 at City Hall before the budget comes up for vote Dec. 10.
A copy of City Manager Ed Moon’s budget presentation along with the proposed 2013 budget, is up for review on the city’s website, www.cityofwestpointga.com