Council: Hudson Area Library funding uncertainty continuesThe Hudson City Council got another look at possible funding scenarios for the Hudson Area Library when it met Wednesday night, May 30. But no decisions were made.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson City Council got another look at possible funding scenarios for the Hudson Area Library when it met Wednesday night, May 30.
But no decisions were made, pending whether the city’s municipal partners in the library choose to stay on board and if the county can be convinced to reduce its library tax levy.
Finance Officer Neil Soltis reminded council members that city taxpayers will also have to pay the county library tax in 2013 unless the city increases its library funding to the level of county library funding.
“They’ll be subject to the county levy if nothing is done,” Soltis said.
Soltis said the city is investigating whether there is a possibility of the county lowering its tax levy from 100 percent of the cost of providing library service to residents in municipalities that don’t have a library to 70 percent of the cost.
If that were the case, the city and other municipal partners wouldn’t have to increase their funding for the Hudson library by as much to avoid having their residents subject to the county library tax.
The city of Hudson, village of North Hudson and towns of Hudson and St. Joseph have been exempt from the county library tax levy since the joint library was formed in 2002.
However, an overlooked state law says municipalities have to fund their libraries at the same level as the county library tax if they withdraw from the county system. The Hudson library partners learned last winter that their library support hasn’t reached the required level.
Soltis said city officials also have been talking with leaders in the partner municipalities to find out if they want to continue in the joint library.
The library board’s steering committee has recommended disbanding the joint library and returning to a municipal library operated by the city.
Soltis said the city is continuing to press the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to allow the city to use the levy cap space from the other municipalities if the joint library is disbanded.
Library Board President Barbara Peterson from the town of Troy also addressed the council.
Peterson said she understands the financial challenges the library partners are facing. She added that the library board would support a referendum asking the voters for permission to exceed the state-imposed levy limit in order to increase library funding.
Mayor Alan Burchill said the city was allowed to increase its tax levy by just $69,000 for 2012, and that he doesn’t expect much change from that for 2013.
In other business, the City Council:
Schreiber said the utility has reduced the amount of mercury in the wastewater effluent by 50 percent.
The utility was able to reduce its power bill by $12,000 annually by installing new electricity producing equipment, he reported.
He said a staff of four operators, in addition to him, keep the utility operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The utility also has the lowest rates in western Wisconsin and among the lowest rates in the state, he said.
The utility purifies 2.2 million gallons of wastewater a day. The operators take care of 60 miles of sewer main in the city and another 14 miles of main in the village of North Hudson, along with 14 pumping stations.