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Extension allows board time to plan for library's future

The Jamestown City Council and Stutsman County Commission approved a one-year extension to the memorandum of agreement between the city and county.

Alfred Dickey Library reopening.jpg
Alfred Dickey Public Library in downtown Jamestown is shown. Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich and Mark Klose, chair of the Stutsman County Commission, said extending the memorandum of agreement between the city and county gives the James River Valley Library System Board more time to agree on what it wants the library to be in the future.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun file photo
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The one-year extension to the memorandum of agreement between Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown for joint library services will allow each entity more time to fine tune some of the language of the agreement and gives the James River Valley Library System Board more time to get a consensus on what the library should be in the future.

The Jamestown City Council approved a one-year extension to the memorandum of agreement between Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown on the joint provision of library services on Monday, March 7, extending by one year the date each entity may provide a notice of intent to withdraw.

“Nothing has changed at all,” Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said. “With some of the little problems that have been going on over there (with the library board), which I think are manageable, we just decided let’s not have to address that right now.

“Let’s just push this agreement down another year that extends that two-year period another year,” he said. “So basically what we are saying is that we are very confident in the next year that the problems that seem to be issues right now will go away.”

The Stutsman County Commission approved the one-year extension on Feb. 15.

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“If you wouldn’t be able to enter the extension then it would automatically renew for three years,” said Mark Klose, county commission chair. “I don’t think either party wants that. There are some things there that need to be cleaned up a little bit and understood so that’s what is happening.”

Either party may withdraw from the agreement by providing a notice of intent to withdraw at least two years prior to the expiration of any five-year term. The current five-year term expires in 2024.

The memorandum of agreement signed in March 2009 states that it is self-renewing for successive five-year terms.

Klose said the city and county contributions to the library system need to be more clear. When the memorandum of agreement was put together, it was somewhat a guideline but it was not clear what each entity was going to contribute to the library system, he said.

Klose said the value of a mill changes over time. He said a mill is worth more if valuations increase.

The city of Jamestown provides 15 mills to the city library levy, said Sarah Hellekson, city administrator.

Stutsman County provides 2.05 mills to the county library levy, said Jessica Alonge, auditor/chief operating officer.

Alonge said 1 mill was equal to approximately $81,081 for the county library levy for 2021. She said 1 mill is equal to approximately $49,843 for the city library levy.

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She said the county provided 4 mills in 2013, which was equal to more than $199,000. She said the county provided 2.87 mills in 2020, which was equal to more than $220,465.

The memorandum of agreement does not state what each entity’s financial contributions are to the library system.

The city and county each provide its share of funds for the joint services from funds received under North Dakota Century Code 40-38-02, according to the memorandum of agreement.

Heinrich said the mills are an issue but that does not have anything to do with what the one-year extension is about. He said the one-year extension gives the library board more time to come to an agreement on what it wants the library to be in Jamestown in the future.

“Do they want it to be one building? Do they want it to be two,” Heinrich said. “Do they want to expand it at that location? What do they want to do?”

Klose said the library system is a joint venture. He said the two libraries combined into one with the intent that taxpayers were getting a better library system for the same amount of money that they had before under two.

“Certainly there should be some efficiencies,” he said. “There should be some benefits here for both sides. … That’s the intent here: better service, better system or reduced cost. Something should be better one way or another here.”

Voters in Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown approved establishing and maintaining joint library services in 2008.

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A space-needs study was conducted this year by JLG Architects that will determine how much space is needed for the library system presently and in the future. The study requires approval from the library board to finalize it and could be finished by either this month or April.

Joe Rector, library system director, said he appreciates the city and county coming together to take a fresh look at the memorandum of agreement between the city and county regarding joint library services.

“I look forward to working with the government entities on that moving forward,” he said.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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