February 24, 2017

Another Semmes Political Puzzle

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Another Semmes Political Puzzle

Another Semmes Political Puzzle

Another Semmes Political Puzzle

Another Semmes Political Puzzle

The City Of Semmes seems to have considerably more than its fair share of political puzzles to solve. Case in point is the surprise request by Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson asking Mayor David Baker of Semmes to rescue her, since she indicated she could not provide support for the Semmes Library.

The word obtained by Talk Of Semmes from informed sources is that Semmes City Hall went into intense behind-the-scenes efforts to obtain expert counsel about the library situation. With that information in hand, and upon legal advice, Mayor Baker addressed the Mobile County Commissioners with a written communication.

Mayor Baker’s reply is published below in its entirety – please read the response for yourself and see if you agree that the mayor has made an attempt to explain to Commissioner Hudson where the responsibility for survival of the library lies. The response also informs Commissioner Hudson that the mayor has no authority to act on her request as the City Of Semmes is not the holder of the lease, does not operate the library and does not collect any taxes or receive any revenue from the library. And, as most of us know, the library is not even in the city limits of Semmes!

Commissioner Hudson may be confused because of the library’s name; everyone calls it the “Semmes Library.” The full name is “Mobile Public Library: Semmes Branch.”

The City Of Semmes is no more responsible for the “Semmes Branch” than Theodore is responsible for the “Theodore Oaks Branch Library” or Trinity Gardens is responsible for the “Trinity Gardens Branch.”

You can help solve this puzzle and keep the library open. Contact Commissioner Ludgood and Commissioner Jerry Carl and ask them to support the county public library system even if Commissioner Hudson can’t figure this one out.

February 22, 2017

Via U.S. Mail & Hand Delivery
Merceria L. Ludgood
Commissioner, District 1 & Commission President
Mobile County Commission
Mobile Government Plaza
205 Government St.
Mobile, AL 36644

Connie Hudson
Commissioner, District 2
Mobile County Commission
Mobile Government Plaza
205 Government St.
Mobile, AL 36644

Jerry Carl
Commissioner, District 3
Mobile County Commission
Mobile Government Plaza
205 Government St.
Mobile, AL 36644

RE: Mobile Public Library, Semmes Branch
Dear Commissioners:

It is my understanding the County Commission is considering allowing the lease for the building in which the Semmes Branch of the Mobile Public Library is located to lapse. According to the lease terms the extension option must be exercised by March 30, 2017, otherwise the lease will expire on September 30, 2017. The City of Semmes has recently and unexpectedly been asked to take over full responsibility for the renewal of this lease at an initial rent of $143,000 per year. The City, as you know, is relatively young. The City does not have the financial ability to assume this lease or provide substantial funding for this library, either at present or in the foreseeable future, as there are other critical priorities in public safety and public works on which the City must focus. Therefore, I request that the County Commission reconsider this matter and continue full funding for this very important library for the reasons set forth below.

This library location is operated by the Mobile Public Library Board and was established approximately ten years ago. At that time the County Commission entered into a lease for the building and agreed to provide operational funding. I understand at that time, which was well prior to the existence of the City, the Semmes community raised approximately $380,000 towards the establishment of this library. The next closest Mobile Public Library location is the Spring Hill Branch, 8.93 miles away. The Semmes library not only serves the City of Semmes and its 3,480 residents, but within a 4.465 mile radius of this library (halfway to the Spring Hill Branch), a much larger population of approximately 21,579 Mobile County residents is being served. This includes residents of both unincorporated areas and incorporated portions of the City of Mobile. Additionally, there are vast areas of land to the Southwest, West, Northwest and North of the Semmes Library beyond the 4.465 mile radius that are served by this branch as there are no other libraries in those areas until the City of Citronelle library, approximately 27 miles away. All of these residents have been paying taxes, both ad valorem and sales, to Mobile County the entire time the Semmes Library has existed and will continue to do so. The City of Semmes has no ad valorem tax and its sales tax rate is very low. It is further my understanding that the Semmes Branch library varies between being the second or third most utilized library in the entire Mobile Public Library system behind the West Regional Branch on Grelot Road near University Boulevard.

As an additional note, it has been suggested I contact the Lessor of this property to attempt to renegotiate the lease. I do not feel it is my place as Mayor of the City of Semmes to negotiate a contract between the County Commission and a third party.

In summation, I respectfully implore the County Commission to renew this lease and continue these library operations as before. I believe this is the right thing to do and would expect a great and justifiable public outcry if the community was in danger of losing this valuable asset. The City of Semmes, if statutorily authorized to do so and with approval by the City Council, may be able to provide a small amount of funds to assist this library, but cannot commit to do so on a recurring basis at this time.

Sincerely,
David R. Baker
Mayor, City of Semmes


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One thought on “Another Semmes Political Puzzle

  1. I live in the Semmes City Limits. I enjoy the Library. I meet 3 Saturdays a week for exercise classes and Green Leaf Writer’s Group. I have family in the Overlook area that use the Semmes Library branch. Would hate to see it go.

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