LETTER TO THE EDITOR--Defeat proposal to merge local library boards
By: Clarice Liechty, The Jamestown Sun
It all sounds wonderful until you read the fine print.
On the general election ballot, the residents of Jamestown have the opportunity to approve or reject entering into a written agreement to jointly provide public library service with Stutsman County. Currently the property taxpayers of Jamestown are taxed only for the Alfred Dickey Public Library and the county property taxpayers are taxed only for the Stutsman County Library. In combining the two libraries the levies will remain the same as they are now.
This is where the fine print comes in. By state law and the resolutions passed by the city and the county, a single joint library board to govern the public library services will consist of an equal number of appointees from each party (city/county) to the agreement. The question the voter needs to ask is “Do I want the county to have that much power over our city library decisions?”
When the City Council tried recently to make changes to the Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp.’s policies and procedures document, it ran up against a County Commission stone wall, but for one commissioner.
Our Jamestown Regional Airport Authority Board has one appointed person from the county. The Stutsman County Weed Board has one appointed person from the city. We city taxpayers and users of the library would be much better served with an appointed board setup the same as these boards, or if the county would contract with the city to provide its library services.
Another issue that needs to be considered is the bookmobile. Do the city taxpayers want to be saddled with an obsolete method of delivering books to the rural area and with the cost of operating a bookmobile? Two of the people running for the County Commission have said in their Jamestown Sun interviews that they want to keep the bookmobile running.
Until the state law changes so a combined library does not have to have equal numbers of appointees to the board, I see combining the libraries today under the current state law as an unworkable alliance. I will be voting “no” on combining the libraries and encourage you to vote no.