Kiryat Shmona Library Still Waiting for Cash Injection

Library faces closure if city does not include the community center in next year's budget.

Half a year after its public library was saved from closure at the last minute, the Kiryat Shmona municipality still hasn't transferred the funds needed for the library's continued operation.

During a hearing yesterday at the Nazareth District Court, the city did promise to finally transfer the money it owes for the past six months. But it made no promises regarding next year's budget - and without such a commitment, the library will close, warned its court-appointed director, attorney Ehud Raz.

The library first faced closure in 2010, when the community center to which it was attached was threatened with liquidation over its debts. But it was kept alive thanks to a donation from Bank Hapoalim that got it through another year.

In June 2011, after the community center had still failed to settle with its creditors, the court ordered it liquidated, and the library along with it. But once again, a last-minute rescue occurred: The national government agreed to transfer the money needed for a creditors' arrangement.

Soon after that, however, a conflict erupted between the municipality and Raz, mainly over who had the authority to hire staff for the community center and the library. This dispute also went to the court, which ruled that Raz had the final say, but should consult the community center's acting director.

Meanwhile, despite heaping public praise on all those who helped to rescue the library from closure, the municipality has spent the past six months failing to provide any of the money needed to keep it operating. City manager Eli Cohen told the court yesterday that it hasn't provided the funding because the donor it recruited, the IDB company, was tardy in fulfilling its pledge, in part due to "disagreements with the liquidator," meaning Raz.

But Judge Attif Ailabouni ordered the city in no uncertain terms to transfer the money for the past six months, some NIS 200,000, immediately, and to negotiate with Raz over a long-term deal under which the city would provide regular monthly payments to finance the library's operation. Municipal spokesman Doron Schnapper said that city officials would meet with Raz soon to work out a budget for next year.