By Rosemary K. Otzman
The last pay telephone in Belleville is going to stay where it is, on the porch of the library for the public to use.
At the Nov. 18 meeting of the Belleville Area District Library Board, Trustee John Juriga questioned paying the $78 per month it takes to keep the pay phone in service. He complained that it was dirty.
He said most people have cell phones and those without phones could go inside the library and ask to use one of their phones for a necessary call.
He asked for the issue to be placed on the agenda of the Dec. 9 meeting and it was.
“I can’t see us spending this money,” Juriga said at the Dec. 9 board meeting, noting the taxpayers of Belleville, Van Buren, and Sumpter are paying for this.
“There’s more and more cell phones and cell-phone usage,” he continued. He said a kid outside the library asked to use his phone once and he let him use it. They can also go inside and use the library phone to call home, he said.
Juriga said in his experience he’s seen the phone used only once. He said paying $78 a month for 12 months costs the library $936. For the four years it has been a district library that’s $3,744.
“It’s not cost-effective,” he said. “I can’t see spending that.”
It was determined there are from 50 to 80 phone calls made each month on that phone. It cost 50 cents to make a call.
Library Director Deb Green said when you go to downtown Detroit for jury duty the court has pay phones to use.
“You have to leave your cell phone in the car because of court rules. That’s why they have the pay phones,” Juriga said.
“It will be noticeable when it’s gone,” said Trustee Joe Monte.
“I think it’s a service the library provides to the community,” said Trustee Michael Boelter.
Juriga said the library could put in a fourth line inside the building for the public to use and that would cost less than the $78 per month.
“It’s the only one in town,” Monte said.
“We can’t take it away,” said Boelter, asking if the library knew what time the 50-80 calls per month were made. Suchy said they didn’t know.
One board member said kids don’t know how to use a pay phone.
Secretary Joy Cichewicz said it could be kept as an artifact for the teens to study.
To put closure to his idea, Juriga made a motion to eliminate the outside payphone. There was no second, so the motion died.
“That answered that problem,” Juriga said.
By Rosemary K. Otzman