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Dacula library branch to close
Library board votes to open Hamilton Mill

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to close the Dacula facility so it can staff the new $7.4 million Hamilton Mill branch, scheduled to be completed in December.

The meeting was called to discuss fiscal year 2010 budget adjustments. The system is tasked with reducing its budget by 10 percent, slicing its operating budget by more than $215,000 and its personnel budget by more than $198,000.

Each of the system's 14 branches began operating on reduced hours Sunday, and October's Gwinnett Reading Festival has been suspended.

The cuts come as a result of budget reductions by the county government, Executive Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam said in a letter published on the system's Web site. The county provides about 85 percent of the system's funding.

Stanbery-Kellam read out her plan to close the Dacula branch, which she said is in the same service area as the Hamilton Mill location.

"The people who use Dacula live in the same area where Hamilton Mill will be," she said, adding that this would be a sensible move that would result in the "least displaced customers."

Assistant Chairperson Dale Todd made the motion, which was seconded and eventually passed with a 3-1 vote.

The lone dissent was from Phillip Saxton, who said there would be a lot of District 3 residents "very upset" and "adversely affected."

"This board needs to be ashamed of itself," Saxton said. "This needs to be discussed ... we have not talked about the impact it would have on the community."

Saxton said the board should consider alternative actions - such as looking into additional revenue sources or pulling employees from several branches to staff Hamilton Mill - rather than "rubber stamping" the motion.

"This southern girl has a mind of her own and I've never rubber stamped anything," Chairperson Phyllis Oxendine said. "And I don't think anyone here has."

Stanbery-Kellam said it wouldn't be feasible to table the motion, as Saxton suggested, because the furniture, fixtures and equipment is on the agenda for the next Board of Commissioner's meeting.

"I realized we needed to move on this ... or it would have to go back to bidding," she said.