Madison County Library System reaches agreement with city of Ridgeland

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 4:14 PM CDT
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RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - The Madison County Library System announced an agreement had been reached with the city of Ridgeland on Tuesday.

The announcement comes after the library announced on August 18 that it would cut down hours and potentially close in October due to a lack of funds from the city.

The Ridgeland Library will now be returning to full operating hours starting September 7.

Director of the Madison County Library System Tonja Johnson says the services contract has been signed, and the third quarter payment has been received.

“We anticipate the release of the fourth quarter payment and confirmation of full funding for the library in the 2023 budget at the September 6 Board of Aldermen meeting,” Johnson said.

Ridgeland’s Board of Aldermen called a special meeting on Monday and signed a stand-alone contract with MCLS.

“The library system will receive in full the $55,000 of appropriated funds from the city’s budget,” said Ward 6 Councilman Wesley Hamlin.

Mayor Gene McGee says he and the Board of Ridgeland “have always been of support of the Madison County Library System. Just as we approved the 2022 contract in April, we are proud to have approved the stand-alone contract with the Madison County Supervisors and the Madison County Library System.”

Mayor McGee said people were complaining about LGBTQ books on display at the library.

He then gave the library an ultimatum. Remove the books from the shelves or not receive the $110,000 in operational costs.

Initially, the two sides were able to come to an agreement on funding in April. However, Councilman Wesley Hamlin says that the contract was later deemed illegal.

“The mayor and Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to adopt the 2022 library contract, and the next day, Mayor McGee signed that contract, but in order for that contract to be legal, it had to be signed by all parties associated within the Madison County library system,” said Councilman Hamlin. “We knew that, they knew that, everybody knew that. Or some reason, for situations or detail that I don’t know about, they couldn’t get all those signatures.”

Following that vote, Hamlin says city leaders gave the library its first payment of $55,000 in good faith.

But then, just three weeks ago, he says the library system crafted a new contract seeking the reaming balance.

Now that both sides have come to an agreement, Hamlin says he’s happy to have this issue taken care of.

“The city never wanted or desired at all for the library to close or have reduced hours,” Councilman Hamlin said. “Now that we’ve come to this agreement, we’re extremely happy and look forward to having a great relationship with them in the future.”

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