Llano County Library could go to city in exchange for event center
A proposed trade between the city of Llano and Llano County for the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena could include the Llano County Library. The Llano City Council will discuss the matter during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at City Hall, 301 W. Main St.
The JLK center is a 25,000-square-foot facility on 88 acres of land that is owned by the city. Llano Mayor Kelli Tudyk proposed trading the facility to Llano County during a July 25 Commissioners Court meeting, stating the city was operating the center at a $133,000-a-year deficit.
In the proposed trade, Llano County would receive the event center and its acreage, The Ray House, and a New Holland tractor with a drag. The city would receive the library, Badu and Grenwelge parks, the Girl Scout Hut, several lots and additions across the city, and the health offices on the west side of the town square.
Trade negotiations moved forward on Aug. 8 at another Commissioners Court meeting when Commissioner Jerry Don Moss was appointed to head the negotiations on behalf of the county. In this initial discussion, county-owned parks across the city were named as possible options for the trade, but no decisions were made.
“There is so much up in the air right now, there’s just not anything to nail down,” Tudyk said. “We’re just now talking about it.”
According to the mayor, the library was included because the city is seeking a trade closer in value to that of the JLK Event Center, which is roughly estimated at $4.5 million.
Both city and county officials have expressed a desire to keep the center in local government hands rather than sell it to an outside entity.
“I think we can work things out,” Moss said. “I think we’re in it for the same reasons: to keep the center operating for the residents and youths of Llano County.”
The JLK center is host to local rodeos and 4H shows as well as traveling events.
Moss believes the county has the resources and manpower necessary to operate the center more efficiently and profitably than the city.
The library’s inclusion comes during a time of controversy for the Llano County Library System. Members of the Llano County Commissioners Court, several members of the Library Advisory Board, and library Director Amber Milum are currently embroiled in a civil lawsuit over claims of censorship. A group of Llano County residents filed suit against the commissioners on April 25 for removing books from the library and changing the library’s e-book system.
While the city is not connected to the Llano County Library System or the lawsuit, Tudyk is aware it is a sensitive issue.
“The reason we did put it on the agenda was so that people would be aware that we’re talking about it,” the mayor said.
Tudyk explained that a possible outcome could be the city owning the library building while the county continued to operate the actual library, but nothing is set in stone.
“The main reason we are wanting to trade the JLK — people are kind of losing sight of this — we want to keep it in the county and have some control over it and relieve the burden which it puts on the city and its citizens,” Tudyk said. “Trading one burden for another is not what we’re looking for.”