County delays acting on Price proposal to increase library fees
|The Price city library. The county has delayed its current plans for a proposed new building. |
A proposal to raise the county's financial commitment to the Price city library hit a major roadblock at the Dec. 12 commission meeting resulting in another round of discussions scheduled for early next month.
Librarian Norma Procarione and Brett Cammans, director of community services appeared before the commissioners recommending an update of the 1991 interlocal agreement between the county and city for library services.
The Price city proposal calls for expanding library access to more residents in Carbon County, including people living in Helper and Wellington.
The current agreement between Price and the county covers only the unincorporated areas.
"The areas served include Kenilworth, Spring Glen and Carbonville, which is a small number of residents," said Price Councilmember Kathy Hanna-Smith.
In addition to expanded access, Price is also seeking to increase the amount that the county pays to cover costs of a library card from $15 to $60 per family.
The substantial increase seemed to torpedo the proposal Dec. 12.
"I am taken aback by you asking us to go from $15 to a head. It is just out of the ordinary," said Commissioner Mike Milovich.
Cammans explained that a current cost analysis for providing all the library services to the community justified the request and would clarify the need.
"Carbon County is putting $100,000 a year into the library," said Milovich.
According to Cammans, the $100,000 supports the county bookmobile.
However, other services provided at the library are costly and need extra support as well, in particular the literacy program.
"The literacy program is the most expensive to operate and it serves the fewest patrons," said Cammans.
He reminded the commissioners that the city puts $350,000 a year into the library.
While the funding increase request appeared to unsettle the commissioners, Hanna-Smith pointed out that $15 fee was established in 1991 and there has been no discussion or changes in the agreement.
"It's not really all that much when you think about all the years in between increases," commented Hanna-Smith.
But for Milovich, the $60 appeared to be unreasonable considering the ongoing financial support he said the county gives to the city.
"We cover your dispatch services and incarcerate your prisoners," pointed out Milovich.
While he felt the library is valuable to the community, Commissioner Bill Krompel indicated that the county has had to tighten its belt in the last couple of years and had experienced a $2 million deficit.
"We are at our limit as far as what we can fund," he said. "If we have another down year we are either going to cut services or raise taxes," said Krompel.
Commissioner Steven Burge suggested that the city and the county sit down and take a more global approach to the spending discussion.
"To just focus on the library is divide and conquer," said Burge. "We need to lay out all the issues we share."
Representatives from Price and Carbon County will meet Jan. 10 at 4 p.m. to continue the library funding question.
For more information on the meeting, local residents may contact Norma Procarione at 636-3188.