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Llano Library building as new City Hall? It’s up for discussion

Llano County Library

The Llano County Library building was among a list of properties that could be traded by Llano County to the city of Llano in exchange for the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena. City Council members made it clear at a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6, they did not plan to operate the library if the city took over ownership of the building. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Library building would make a good City Hall or government office if the city of Llano received it in a trade with the county for the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena, said several council members at a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6. No decisions were made at the meeting. 

The city also would be open to the county leasing the library space if county commissioners wanted, Mayor Kelli Tudyk said.

If the trade were to go through, Llano city officials made it clear they would not continue to operate the library, 102 E. Haynie St.

“If (county commissioners) decide to shut (the library) down, if they decide to keep it going, we have no impact on that,” Tudyk said. “We don’t have the funds to operate what we’ve got, much less take on something that has, from what I understand, $200,000 in deficit every year.”

Lack of money is what led the city to broach the idea of trading away the event center. During a July 25 Commissioners Court regular meeting, Tudyk proposed a trade, stating that the city was operating the center at a $133,000 annual deficit. The county could use hotel occupancy tax money to keep the center going, shifting the burden off of property taxes. 

Discussion on the city agenda item Tuesday focused on which pieces of county property added together would be an equal trade for the $4.5 million event center. Initially, the trade was to include county-owned parks in the city, but as negotiations progressed, various other buildings and properties have been included in the discussion to balance out the exchange. None of the county property, including the library, have been assessed for their value.

The idea of trading away the library building certainly caught the attention of Llano residents, who have recently voiced concern on how the county library system is operated. Earlier this year, a group of residents filed a federal civil lawsuit after certain books were removed from library shelves and the system’s e-book vendor was changed. 

Named as defendants and charged with removing books based on their personal political beliefs are the Llano County commissioners, certain members of the Llano County Library Advisory Board, and Amber Milum, the library system director. The lawsuit was filed before the current trade talks.

Several residents attended Tuesday’s council meeting to voice concerns about the trade. 

“I understand the concern of all the citizens, but we are not the ones that are funding the library,” Tudyk told DailyTrib.com after the meeting.

Commissioners will have to wait to discuss the trade in a regular session, Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said. 

“It’s all up in the air right now,” he told DailyTrib.com. “At the end of the day, this is about real estate that best serves the citizens of Llano and the citizens of Llano County.”

The next Llano County Commissioners Court meeting is 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12. The Llano City Council meets again at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at City Hall, 301 W. Main St. Neither had published agendas by the time this story was posted. 

dakota@thepicayune.com