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Supporters ask council for more funds for library

GLENWOOD CITY — A number of people attended the City’s budget hearing on November 7th with several requesting more funds for the local library.

The proposed city budget for 2014 has the city funding the library to the amount of $25,000. In the 2013 year the city funded some $42,000 to the operation of the library and in 2011 the city spend $48,000.

 Several members of the public and library board members spoke at the budget hearing asking the city for more funds.

Jan Scepurek from the Town of Forest and a member of the Library Board spoke about the library funding and noted that not only does the library receive funds from the city but also from St. Croix and Dunn Counties. She informed the council that when local circulation decreases so does the outside funding.

Scepurek related that the library has surplus funds and noted, “so far we have been able to keep things going with less money.” It was indicated that the new librarian is just part time and that saved money.

Paula Brandt, a former board member noted that in 2010 the city funded the library to the tune of $81,000. “The $25,000 figure is inadequate,” she told the council. She continued, “Library funding has been used to balance other city services. The library is being dismantled. No other city services has seen this big of cut.” She said that she could not see the library surviving this cut. “Is it the intent of the council to underfund the library to its death?” she asked.

Barb Standaert informed the council that she was the new school district’s representative on the local library board. She noted that, “the library has taken a hit.” She stated that she wanted to increase the activities of the library and asked the council to re-think their decision about the amount of funding from the city.

Members of the city council brought out how the budget is constructed and what money they have to work with and that the city has state revenue limits to stay within and they have just so much money. The mayor noted that the police department took a $60,000 hit a couple of years ago and lost one of its officers because of budget constraints.

Council members also discussed the cutting of funds for other city services over the past few years including the street department and the need to lay aside funds for city equipment.

Council member Crystal Booth suggested that maybe some funds could be taken away from other city funding areas. She was looking over the document and asking about removing some funds. “A couple of hundred from several accounts.” But councilperson Scott Schone told her that the council had already shaved funds from other accounts as they were preparing the final budget. Booth indicated that she could not attend that other meeting when the council went over the preliminary budget proposal. Schone told her, “That is the most important meeting the council has.”

After the hearing closed, Mayor John Larson suggested to the members of the council that maybe they could remove some $5,000 from the city equipment fund in favor of the library. But on discussion, it was learned that several pieces of equipment at the city shed are old and will need to be replaced shortly. The conversation centered around the snow removal equipment.

In the end council approved the budget as presented on a five to one vote with Booth voting no.

The total city budget for 2014 was set at $877,026. The total expenses for 2013 are estimated to be just over one million dollars.