Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

How will big donation to Llano Library be spent?

Amber Milum and Lisa Miller

Llano County Library System Director Amber Milum (left) stood before the Commissioners Court on June 12 to explain how a $39,400 donation will be spent. When concerned Llano County resident Lisa Miller (right) spoke to the court during public comment, she questioned how the donation will be used. Staff photos by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Commissioners Court accepted a donation of $39,400 from the Friends of the Llano Library on Monday, June 12, amid questions about how the money will be used. 

Llano County officials and Friends group members said the funds will be reserved for standard operations and upgrades to the Llano County Library, but some library advocates are worried the money will go toward paying an Austin lawyer hired to represent the county in a First Amendment lawsuit that is drawing national attention. 

The battle began in April 2022 when seven Llano County Library patrons filed a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio — later moved to Austin — claiming a violation of their First and 14th amendment rights after officials removed 17 books from library circulation. The suit says the move was because government officials did not agree with the books’ content. Defendants say the books were removed through standard weeding practices.  

Llano County Library System Director Amber Milum, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, spoke on the money issue during Monday’s meeting.

“A lot of (the donation) is going to be for programs, equipment, and supplies,” she told the Commissioners Court prior to the unanimous vote accepting the donation.

She presented a budget for the funds that included acquiring new sound equipment ($3,500); creating a senior drumming program ($3,000); paying for radio, newspaper, branding, and marketing ($5,000); and buying new holiday decorations ($2,500).

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tow resident Lisa Miller read a prepared statement, questioning how the donation would be spent.

“My question to the court is: For what purpose are these funds intended?” she asked. “In the past, the Friends of the Llano Library have made donations to the county for specific improvements in the Llano Library.”

Miller’s concern stemmed from the original wording of the Commissioners Court agenda item No. 19, which specified “Llano Library System” rather than “Llano Library,” implying the money might go to the system as a whole. Judge Ron Cunningham told the court that this was a clerical error and the wording was changed prior to the donation’s acceptance.

Friends of the Llano Library Executive Director Mary Moore told after the meeting that the group would rather not comment on Milum’s proposed budget. She did speak during public comment about the donation before the vote.

“The Friends of the Llano Library has the mission to fundraise, and part of fundraising is to make a donation when the library director approaches with a budget,” she said.

Jeanne Puryear, a former member of the Friends group and a plaintiff in the Llano County Library System lawsuit, told after the meeting that she is also concerned about how the money will be used. Over the past year, the county has cut the library system’s budget by over $150,000 and proposed closing all three library branches: Llano, Kingsland, and Buchanan Dam. 

Invoices obtained through a public information request show that Llano County has paid attorney Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell Law LLP in Austin $158,883.35 from July 2022 through April 2023 to represent it in the civil lawsuit Leila Green Little et al. v. Llano County et al. The highest bill was in March 2023 for $30,034.25. Bills are still to come for May and June as the lawsuit moves forward to a jury trial currently set for Oct. 16, 2023.

Commissioners approved $150,000 in March 2022 to hire Mitchell using money from two different budget-line items: 1) the county’s miscellaneous contingency fund for $100,000 for attorney fees and 2) the professional services line item for the 2022-23 budget for $50,000.

2 thoughts on “How will big donation to Llano Library be spent?

  1. Nothing funny about it Mr Shipley. The original friends spent years raising that money for library improvements. Not to pay off legal fees of the “new” group of friends.

  2. I think it’s hilarious that the people who are suing Llano County are concerned about the expense of defending Llano County from their lawsuit.

Comments are closed. moderates all comments. Comments with profanity, violent or discriminatory language, defamatory statements, or threats will not be allowed. The opinions and views expressed here are those of the person commenting and do not necessarily reflect the official position of or Victory Media Marketing.