Partners will stay in joint library it appears
It appears that the Hudson Area Library will remain a joint library following recent developments in Madison and locally.
In the fall of 2012, the village of North Hudson and towns of Hudson and St. Joseph gave notice of their intent to leave the joint library at the end of 2013 if action wasn't taken to make them exempt from the county library levy.
Earlier in 2012, the municipal partners in the joint library had learned that their property owners would have to pay the county library tax as well as fund their own library.
It had been brought to light that the library partners weren't meeting a state requirement to fund the Hudson library to same level as the county library levy. As a result, the property owners in the municipalities would also be subject to the county library tax.
Meanwhile, the St. Croix County Board's earlier decision to require municipalities without libraries to fund 100 percent of the cost of lending materials to their residents made it more difficult for the Hudson Area Library partners to meet the requirement. The previous reimbursement rate had been 70 percent.
In June of this year, the state Legislature passed a law making joint libraries exempt from county library levies, as long as the level of funding for the joint libraries doesn't dip below their average for the previous three years.
At the Hudson Area Library Board's July 16 meeting, members indicated that they expect North Hudson and the towns of Hudson and St. Joseph to rescind their earlier notices to leave the library.
The letters the municipalities sent last fall asked for the right to rescind their withdrawals from the library prior to Aug. 31, 2013.
Also earlier last month, the Hudson City Council voted in favor of amending the 2003 Joint Library Agreement to do away with a provision requiring the library to reimburse neighboring libraries for any loss in funding they experienced as a result of the joint library being formed.
This year, the joint library paid a total of $34,488 to the River Falls, Somerset and Roberts libraries. In 2012, it was $52,121, and in 2011, $35,570.
The River Falls library has received the largest share of the payments, $20,087 this year and $34,427 in 2012.
The provision was put in the joint library agreement back in 2003 to win county board approval for the formation of the joint library.
Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill has said the provision is outdated and no longer needed because the county now reimburses municipal libraries at 100 percent of the cost of serving people from rural municipalities that don't have libraries.
At the July 16 library board meeting, members expressed confidence that North Hudson and the towns of Hudson and St. Joseph would follow the city's lead in dropping the payments to neighboring libraries from the joint library agreement. All four municipal partners need to agree to the change for it to go into effect.
The payments have come from the joint library's budget, so removing the provision would make more money available to operate it.
There's nothing in Wisconsin law that requires the Hudson library to make the payments to the neighboring libraries, according to city officials.
The makeup of library board has changed with the terms of Roy Sjoberg of the city of Hudson and Rob Howard of the village of North Hudson ending in earlier this year.
Mayor Alan Burchill appointed Karen Homeier to replace Sjoberg as a citizen representative from the city. North Hudson Village President Stan Wekkin appointed Curt Weese to replace Howard.
Also at the July 16 meeting, Rich O'Connor of the city was elected to replace Barbara Peterson of the town of St. Joseph as the board president. Peterson, who is remaining on the board, had previously declined to serve another year as president.
Dave Ostby was elected vice president of the board.
The other members are Hudson City Council President Rich Vanselow, Marion Shaw of the town of Hudson and school district representative Dan Koch.
The library board rescinded a resolution of the previous board resolution calling for the partner municipalities to hold referendums on increasing funding for the library.
A discussion about possible alternatives to renewing the library's lease of space in the city-owned building at the corner of First and Vine streets produced some disagreement.
Vanselow said the library board's finance committee was recommending the renewal of a five-year lease. For 2013, the board budgeted $130,000 for building occupancy expenses paid to the city.
"We don't know of a good alternative, and that's the problem," Vanselow said regarding the current arrangement.
He said it would be expensive to relocate the library, but the board might ask for a one- or two-year lease instead of re-upping for another five years.
Shaw said that his assumption is that the library will be operating in a deficit for the next six years and can't afford to renew the lease at the current amount.
Weese agreed and said the library might be able to afford only $60,000 or $80,000 a year in lease payments.
Weese noted that he didn't favor the library's move to present location. But he allowed that it is an attractive building and there is support for keeping the library there.
"We need to figure out a way to keep us in the facility without raising taxes," he said, suggesting that the city should considering lowering the rent for building.