Eureka library to pay legal fees

Monday, July 18, 2011 ~ Updated 4:04 PM

The Eureka Springs Carnegie Library is on the hook for legal fees incurred by its board of directors.

The Carroll County Quorum Court on Friday ruled in a 5-3 vote that $7,781.81 would be taken out of the Carnegie Library's budget to pay for the legal defense of the Carroll County Library Board.

"The library is now going to have $7,000 less for books," said Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie, who voted against the measure. "This is clearly a punitive action. I don't see how we can make them pay this when the judge said that they weren't responsible for the legal fees."

JPs John Howerton and Larry Swofford also voted against the measure, while Jack Deaton abstained.

Justice of the Peace Ron Flake, who sponsored the measure, said it was only fair for the library to pay.

"We don't have the money to pay this anywhere else, and this is the proper place to get it from," Flake said. "Why should the rest of the libraries and all the taxpayers in the county have to pay for this?"

The lawsuit, brought by plaintiffs David Zimmermann, Lucilla Garrett, and the Eureka Springs Library Board against Carroll County, the Carroll County Library Board, Quorum Court, Berryville and Green Forest libraries, was over distribution of tax money.

Plaintiffs for the library contended that more money is raised from property taxes on the western side of the county, therefore more money should stay in the western district.

Defendants maintained that the libraries' share of county money has been put in the pot for the past 127 years, divvied into thirds, and that is as it should be.

The suit was dismissed on May 2.

In other news at the meeting, the board unanimously agreed to have its meetings broadcast on Cox Channel 21 in Eureka Springs.

This broadcast will only be available to residents who live in Eureka Springs and Holiday Island.

But Don Matt, who is the production manager for Channel 21, said he will also post a broadcast of each meeting on YouTube that can be linked from the county's website.

Also at the meeting, Flake asked the media to solicit volunteers to fill the rest of the term of former JP Dave Clark. Clark represented the eastern Berryville District but moved to Eureka Springs.

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