Mayor says library shouldn’t get more fundsJamestown Mayor Katie Andersen told the James River Valley Library System Board Wednesday that she believes the library already receives a lot of money and should not receive additional funds for purchasing or expanding its facilities.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen told the James River Valley Library System Board Wednesday that she believes the library already receives a lot of money and should not receive additional funds for purchasing or expanding its facilities.
“There’s a lot of dollars dedicated to this organization as a percentage of mills. Total dollars, it’s not a small amount of money,” Andersen said, stating she runs a small business employing five people. The library system’s budget is approximately $660,000 and it employs 16 people.
“That’s one of the things that, maybe, as business owners, as residents, as all those things, we have to take all those things into consideration when we’re making decisions, and to say, well, we think you’re already getting a lot of money and if it was up to me, maybe we’d even cut that to have a reduced budget for the library itself,” she said.
“And then you’re asking for more mills and perhaps a percentage of the sales tax —” she added, referring to the possibility of a new or expanded library, and the Library Board’s 2011 request to purchase a site on which to build a new library.
Library Board member Judy Brueske cut in, stating that when the Library Board had asked the Jamestown City Council about purchasing the Essentia site, the group had wanted the opportunity for a public vote. The City Council and Stutsman County Commission instead voted not to allow the purchase.
“To get it on the ballot, that’s what we were really asking,” Brueske said. “We were asking for a public vote.”
“And you’d always have that possibility through the petition process,” Andersen replied.
Lynn Krueger, another member of the Library Board, asked Andersen whether the Library Board could purchase a lot itself if it had the money, or if the Library Board could take possession of the land if someone donated the space.
“Perhaps. That doesn’t build the building or anything like that,” Andersen said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything that would move towards additional funding in the future.”
She said she believed that the library should make any facilities improvements within its existing budget.
“The feeling I have is that when the vote was taken and the public voted to combine the (county and city libraries) I think the expectation was that we were all going to be under one roof, we were truly going to combine,” Brueske said. “… I don’t feel like we have any real direction from the city as to, really, what they want us to do.”
Andersen said the city has no authority to give the Library Board direction, because it operates under a joint powers agreement between the city and county.
“We unanimously said no (to purchasing the Essentia building), so I sort of feel like you took that decision and you moved in the opposite direction of it,” Andersen said.
She said she did not believe voters wanted a new building, but that it “could be as simple as closing the Stutsman County Library.”
Library Board members said they were concerned about what would happen to the bookmobile if the Stutsman County Library closes. The bookmobile is housed in the Stutsman County Library and cannot be housed at Alfred Dickey Library, which lacks space for it, said Jennifer Senger, assistant library director.
Andersen said that those concerns could be taken care of while preserving the bookmobile and its services, but did not elaborate.
In other news, the Library Board discussed with Andersen the necessity of the Jamestown City Council adding people to the JRVLS Library Board.
The Library Board is required to have seven members, three of which are appointed by the city, three by the county and one by joint consent of both bodies.
When a position is vacated, it must be filled by the appropriate body within one month, according to its joint powers agreement.
Jim Nyland resigned from a city position on the Library Board in February 2012, and since then his position has remained vacant, leaving the city short one representative on the six-person body.
During a Jan. 7 meeting, the City Council delayed appointing Bill Kennedy to the Library Board, and at that time, Andersen said she had “a concern with appointing anybody to a board that is not moving in the direction we want.”
On Wednesday, Andersen clarified her statement, say there had been no objection to Kennedy himself.
“I think there was more a concern that that appointment has a lot of weight in the amount of tax dollars it has authority over, and we wanted to make sure that that appointment would line up with the same ideas that the City Council that was appointing them has,” Andersen said. “That may put that person in a difficult position.”
Andersen said no one had expressed an interest in the position, though it had been mentioned several times in city meetings.
“The problem is finding somebody who wants to take on that role, because it’s not easy to be the bad guy,” Andersen said.
In addition to the vacant seat, the City Council will also need to act on its other two positions on the Library Board, because the terms of both Gary Riffe and Barb Laraway are up. Both can be reappointed if the City Council wishes to do so.
“We have to determine a goal that’s achievable. We need support from the city and the county,” said Brueske following the meeting. She said the group’s short-term goal now will be to get a full board back.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
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