BENTON - Scott County officials want equal treatment from the Riverside Regional Library District.
County commissioners discussed with County Developer Joe Evans during their regular meeting Tuesday the district's decision to not renew their agreement with the Sikeston Public Library.
Under the agreement, the Sikeston library provided services to Scott County residents in the R-6 School District who live outside Sikeston's city limits and pay taxes to the Riverside District in exchange for receiving an annual payment of $15,000. The six-year contract ends Aug. 31.
Evans said he met with Kathy Lynn, one of Scott County's five representatives on the Riverside library board, and Nancy Howland, director of Riverside's Jackson facility, Monday to discuss alternatives for serving the R-6 School District residents in Scott County.
"They wanted me to find a solution to the problem," Evans said.
Evans said he also followed up the meeting with a phone call to Randal Friend, Riverside board's president, who is also one of Scott County's representatives.
Riverside's board consists of 15 members, five each from Scott, Perry and Cape Girardeau counties. Of Scott County's five members, two voted to renew the agreement and two voted against it while Friend abstained, according to commissioners.
Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said he is convinced all of the Riverside board's members are good people but may not have closely examined the figures. "They had a good deal going," Priggel said. "They're going to have a hard time beating the program they had."
Scott County officials said Riverside's board may have been put off by an initial contract offering from the Sikeston library board that would have gradually increased the annual cost but noted Sikeston's board backed off from this early proposal and had agreed to renew the contract at $15,000 per year.
The Riverside district presently is "not serving anybody south of Benton, basically," Evans said, as the only Riverside library facilities in the county are at Benton, Scott City, and Oran.
As the Riverside board meets on the last Thursday of each month, they are not scheduled to meet again until July 28, but Evans discussed with commissioners several of the options the board is likely to discuss during their next meeting.
One alternatives is opening a facility in the area around Miner while looking at a centralized facility for Scott County in the future, according to Evans.
"I'll try to give them a realistic view of what it would cost to put a facility in Miner," Evans said. While he said he is still working on gathering figures, Evans estimated it would cost at least $30,000 per year for a tiny facility.
Riverside's library at Scott City is 2,686 square feet and the Benton facility is just over 2,000 square feet, according to Evans. He estimated a south Scott County facility should be about 3,000 square feet to be comparable.
Another idea is to extend the hours at Riverside branches in Scott County into the evening to make them more accessible, although this solution would not exactly be providing equal services.
Yet another idea may be discussed by the Riverside board is issuing vouchers to Riverside district taxpayers in south Scott County to cover the $25 fee to use the Sikeston library.
Evans, who lives south of Blodgett, presently pays $25 for his household to have access to the Sikeston's library while living in and paying taxes to the Riverside district. This plan, however, could conceivably end up costing the district more than simply paying $15,000 to the Sikeston Library directly. Evans said it may be set up so those who wish to receive vouchers would have to go to the Jackson facility to get them.
Dennis Ziegenhorn, commissioner, said his concern is making sure Scott County residents are served. "Services are needed and taxes are being paid," he said.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said he doesn't see why the Riverside board doesn't just extend the contract for a year or two while an alternative is being worked out.
Although it isn't a problem for Scott County officials to worry about, commissioners believe Riverside is also going to be approached by Cape Girardeau city officials with a request for a reciprocal agreement.
"We're just trying to come up with a solution and that's the bottom line," Ziegenhorn said. Scott County residents in the Riverside district are paying taxes, "and they want something for their tax."
In other Scott County business Tuesday:
* Commissioners accepted the low bid for tree trimming at the courthouse and county E-911 center of $1,125 from Gene's Tree Service of Sikeston.
The only other bid was from Dewayne McAllister Tree Service of Cape Girardeau which offered to do the job for $1,700.
* Ron Eskew, Scott City's city manager, and Mitch Thompson, Miner's mayor, were reappointed by commissioners to serve on the county's Tax Increment Financing board.
The terms are four years long.