Officials give sewer system $500K Proposed new library gets zilch

BAYBORO – No one put it quite this way, but maybe the unanimous thinking Monday night among the seven Pamlico County Commissioners was that our neck of the woods needs an expansion of sewage treatment more than a spanking new $2.1 million public library.

Granted the comparison is a bit more draconian than mere apples to oranges. Part of the dilemma?

Sewer system money can come from a $2.4 million pot of cash furnished by Uncle Sam, originally meant to cover a projected pandemic-induced loss of revenue by Pamlico County Government. Fast forward to less hysteria, when the Feds have basically said β€œKeep that cash we gave you, just be sure to spend it on sewer, water, or broadband projects.”

Library funding is a different ballgame. A group of enthusiastic, hard-working folks, known as Friends of the Library, have scrounged up about $700,000 – roughly a third of the money needed to convert the old Hardees building on Highway 55 into a state-of-the-art 21st Century marvel.

Early last month, the group presented a slick video, apparently winning what Friends vaguely referred to as β€˜support’ from elected officials Unfortunately, a follow-up letter from Friends – sent to each Commissioner – spelled out exactly what the group wanted for their ambitious project:

β€œThere are 7,000 Pamlico County residents who hold library cards. (We) ask that the county appropriate $700,000, just $100 per library patron. . . ”

Ouch! Unlike sewer money, library money must come from ad valorem property taxes. Budget time looms for the Commissioners, and none of them are eager to raise the tax rate.