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MailTribune.com
  • Library board taps Bartholomew for contract with county

  • A newly formed library board has selected Medford lawyer Mark Bartholomew to represent it and help negotiate a more-than-$8 million contract with Jackson County.
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  • A newly formed library board has selected Medford lawyer Mark Bartholomew to represent it and help negotiate a more-than-$8 million contract with Jackson County.
    The board will pay Bartholomew $200 an hour and decided to turn down an offer by retired lawyer Bill Mansfield to work free of charge.
    "It's difficult to speak for the whole board, but we were unanimous in saying he was not our first choice," said board member Maureen Swift.
    She said she personally declined Mansfield's offer because he didn't have a staff that could serve as backup.
    "Our needs are going to be substantial in the early going and formation of the district," she said.
    The contract with the county is a complicated legal document in which the county assumes administrative functions of the library district and contracts with LSSI for the management of the libraries. The current cost to operate the libraries for a year is $6.5 million, but the contract is for a more than 16-month period, rather than a year, because property taxes won't be collected until November.
    Bartholomew is a partner with Hornecker Cowling LLP. He is the city attorney for Grants Pass, in addition to serving several other clients.
    "We want to get the contract behind us," Swift said.
    The library district was formed July 1 with the passage of Ballot Measure 15-122, designed to provide a permanent source of funding for all 15 library branches after county budget woes threatened to close them. Passed May 20, the measure allows the district to tax Jackson County property owners up to 60 cents per $1,000 in assessed value each year.
    The board hopes to increase hours and assume the more than $500,000 that Ashland, Talent and other communities pay to supplement hours at their branches.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.
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