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Nassau County joins fight to save libraries

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Updated: 7/17/2013 12:37 pm
NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. -- An Action News investigation reveals a major oversight by local leaders, that dates back decades, and it's costing the taxpayers thousands.

At Tuesday night's city commission meeting, many commissioners just found out they've been paying for county libraries through what they call a good old boy promise, and are learning other cities aren't doing their part.

"Where did we sign and when did we sign to do this," questioned Mayor Sarah Pelican at Tuesday's commission meeting.

That's the big money question, after discovering there's nothing in writing to show that the city of Fernandina Beach has been paying for a Nassau county library.

As city leaders try to fill in the holes in their budget, they now want to know why.

"So this free library is costing the taxpayers of this city $51,000 a year and we've never charged them any rent," said City Commissioner Pat Gass.

Action News dug into this a little further and found that while Fernandina is paying $51,000 to the county libraries, Hilliard only pays $8,000 and we're told Callahan doesn't pay a dime.

Action News asked Pelican why continue doing it if everyone isn't doing their part. She says "that's what we'd like to know are there any other written or unwritten agreements and if there are obviously everything needs to be in black and white."

City commissioners also expressed some fear that if they stopped writing that check, the county would put a halt on money to pay for upgrades to the building.

"I don't want to use the word extortion but that's just crazy," said Gass.
"I was a bit surprised that that did come up because I don't think they would behave in that manor," said Mayor Pelican.

We also found out the county libraries get funding through grant money, But because the city of Fernandina pays that $51,000 to its local library, the grant funds are dispersed mostly to the other libraries even though some aren't reportedly paying their dues to the county. This is also something the city says they would like to discuss with the county.

The county commission has a meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday and we are told this discussion could come up then.


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