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Changes for FRL: Jackson looks at Macon’s recommendations for library system

Macon County commissioners proposed several changes to the Fontana Regional Library system. File photo Macon County commissioners proposed several changes to the Fontana Regional Library system. File photo

After Macon County proposed several changes to the Fontana Regional Library system agreement, Jackson County commissioners are taking a look at the recommendations to determine what will work, and what won’t. 

“I think this is a good start, but we do really need to put a careful eye to any potential negative ramifications of the language that is in here as it affects the liability of Jackson County or any county that is involved in this agreement,” said Board Attorney John Kubis.

The Fontana Regional Library system governs libraries in Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The regional agreement is currently undergoing its 10-year renewal process and this time around, county commissions are looking to make some changes.

During their December work session, Jackson County Commissioners went through all the proposed recommendations from Macon County commissioners.

“One of the recommendations that I have is to have your county attorney review this,” said County Manager Don Adams.

Most of the recommended changes have to do with how the Fontana Regional Library board runs its meetings and sets standards for adherence to open meetings laws as well as allowing for input from the public. The proposals also address appointment to the FRL board, which is recommended to change hands from local library advisory boards to the county commissions, as well as how the withdrawal process from the FRL system should work.

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Adams asked the board to consider whether those changes for open meetings laws regarding recording meetings and permitting public comment will apply to just the main regional board or the local advisory boards as well.

“The reason I mention that is because if you turn around and make the direct appointments and control the regional board, the regional board is the legal authority,” said Adams. “The advisory boards, other than their appointment authority, they really have no legal authority in making policies and so forth. So, I would just ask you to consider that when you’re talking about public comment, are you making it for all boards, or do you focus on the regional board which has all the legal authority?”

Adams also recommended the board and its attorney look at the recommendations pertaining to property ownership in the case of one county withdrawing from the system. The recommendation from Macon County is that the withdrawing county would be able to keep all property in the library, even that which was purchased by FRL.

“At the end of the day here’s what I recommend Jackson County do,” said Adams. “You make sure you’re not paying for anything other counties do.” 

He noted that a lot of the equipment within the FRL system was paid for with grants that were issued to the FRL system itself.

“If a county wants to peel off and keep those computers, [for example], and the granting agency comes back and basically tells Fontana Regional Library that they owe those grant funds back, the remaining counties should not be responsible for that,” said Adams. “There just needs to be some more conversations.”

Adams also recommended that commissioners reach out to the state to understand how state funding may be impacted as the counties move forward with changes to the system.

All changes recommended by Macon County commissioners can be found at

The Jackson County Commission was set to review the changes to the FRL system again during its Dec. 19 meeting, after press time.

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