February 17, 2018

Bedford, TX, Library Donor Revealed; Board Opposes Outsourcing

By LJ Staff

A local company that sells health plans to self-employed people has revealed itself as the anonymous donor who gave $300,000 last year that allowed the city of Bedford, TX, which had briefly shuttered its library after a tax cut, to reopen the library. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram identified the firm as HealthMarkets of North Richland Hills; president and CEO William Gedwed told the newspaper that he was concerned about how the cuts would affect those among the firm’s 1300 employees who live in Bedford and nearby. Gedwed said that he approached the city and sought anonymity to avoid being part of the political battle over the tax cut.

Also, the library board on Tuesday unanimously opposed outsourcing of Bedford Public Library management and a contract with Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI), which has been favored by some City Council members. According to a statement by dona weisman, chair of the library board, the board "is convinced that LSSI cannot save the city a worthwhile amount of money" and still provide the service and materials that Bedford residents are used to receiving. "In fact, we have not been able to find any evidence that LSSI has experience in operating a long-existing municipal public library in a community that is not facing a serious financial crisis," Weisman said, pointing out that "a great majority of those residents who have expressed opinions on this issue" oppose the move. The statement noted that, while the City Council aims to focus on "Employee Retention," outsourcing the library would contradict that goal. The board’s role is only advisory, and the Council will vote on January 9 as to whether to issue an RFP.