Chris Snell has been the face of the Fayetteville Library for years. But a June decision by the Flint River Library System board could change all that by year’s end unless the Fayette County Commission can find the funds to retain the position.
Flint River in its decision to eliminate the director’s position cited continuing state budget cuts. The board noted that the Fayetteville Library’s director is the only library director position in the six-county system not paid by local funds.
Flint River Director Carrie Zeiger on July 5 said the elimination of Snell’s position as the Fayetteville Library director hinged on one factor: finances. She said Flint River had experienced cuts totaling 30 percent in the past few years.
“The reason for the cut (to Snell’s position) is financial. We’ve cut every place we can and unfortunately there was no other place to cut,” said Zeiger, adding that the vote by the Flint River board was unanimous with one board member abstaining.
The director of the Fayetteville facility is the only one in the library system where the director is not paid by a respective city or county, Zeiger said, adding that the Flint River board after deciding to eliminate Snell’s position effective Oct. 1 had voted to use the library system’s reserve funds to extend the funding for Snell’s position until Dec. 31.
A longtime state-funded employee, Snell sits at the top of the salary scale with close to $90,000 in salary and benefits, Zeiger said.
Finances or not, Zeiger said Snell’s contribution to the Fayetteville Library was without question.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris and for what she has done for Fayetteville,” Zeiger said. “I know how valuable she is to the community.”
Fayette County Administrator Jack Krakeel said he was informed of the library system’s decision on June 17 in a conversation with Zeiger in Fayetteville.
The notification to eliminate the director’s position was potentially problematic since the Fayette County Commission was already well into the budget process, Krakeel said. Meantime, Krakeel said he will be formulating a plan to address the library system’s cut in funding for a local director, including salary requirements.
“We were notified so late in the budget process that this represents an unforeseen expense should the county commission fund the position,” Krakeel said.
The Flint River service area includes Butts, Fayette, Lamar, Monroe, Pike and Spalding counties.