Commissioners favor cuts that aren't so deep
With a majority of Crow Wing County commissioners expressing an interest in a smaller cut to library funding, those dollars may be restored before the final budget is adopted next week.
At issue is whether to take the allotted 10 percent cut the Legislature allowed — $56,000 — to the Kitchigami Regional Library System’s budget in 2012. Commissioners Rachel Reabe Nystrom, Phil Trusty and Doug Houge said they could support a 5 percent cut, about $28,000.
Chairman Paul Thiede proposed budget reductions of the full 10 percent, which was included in the county’s preliminary budget, saying he thought everyone needed to share in the pain. The final budget is expected to be adopted on Dec. 27.
Marian Ridge, Kitchigami regional director, also attended the session and spoke to the board. Possible cuts have included the mobile library, senior outreach to the home bound and assisted living, or Brainerd Public Library staff or hours. Nystrom said she was troubled by comments last week from board members to cut the 10 percent but don’t touch the mobile library and asked for input on what to cut.
Thiede said the library funding mandate increased from $306,000 in 2001 to $570,000 by 2010 and he thought there were cuts that could be made to the central operational system not just to services in Crow Wing County. The regional library system includes Beltrami, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass and Crow Wing counties.
Ridge said the state provides funding for the central system and the $570,000 from Crow Wing County is used in the county. The conversation between Thiede and Ridge was sometimes pointed with Thiede saying he was not getting the answer he wanted. Ridge said she thought she was answering but perhaps wasn’t clear. The library system’s total budget is about $3 million. Ridge said the state pays for the central services and the county pays for its representative, about $850 a year, and for its services. If the counties each cut their allotted 10 percent, it would amount to about $185,000.
Ridge said the central system included the databases, delivery of books and electronic services. Thiede said he was going to use a quote by Ridge that options for reductions are always restricted and he did repeat it several times Tuesday.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.