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Departing library board member calls for municipal referendums

The chairman of the Hudson Area Library Board's finance committee made a pitch for increasing tax funding for the library in what he expected to be one his meetings as a board member.

Roy Sjoberg presented a draft resolution calling for the governing bodies of the three municipalities that partner with the city of Hudson in operating the library to pass levy increase referendums in the fall of 2013 or disband the joint library.

The resolution presented to the finance committee on April 10 said the municipalities should fund the library "at a level that is on par with its peers and worthy of the communities it serves."

It also asked the library board to support the St. Croix County Board's decision in 2012 to continue to levy a county library tax to fully reimburse libraries for service to residents of municipalities that don't have a library.

Sjoberg, who was appointed to represent the city on the library board in 2010 by then-mayor Dean Knudson, indicated that he doesn't expect to be reappointed to a new three-year term.

He said there would likely be a big change in the make-up of the library board in May, with North Hudson representative Rob Howard and possibly another member leaving.

Later, Sjoberg said Howard had received a courtesy call from new North Hudson Village President Stan Wekkin telling him that he wouldn't be reappointed. Wekkin reportedly said he would be nominating Curt Weese to the library board.

The North Hudson Village Board was expected to consider the appointment at its meeting Tuesday, April 16.

Sjoberg's motion to adopt the resolution calling for library funding referendums died for lack of a second in the finance committee.

Library Board President Barb Peterson and committee member Jim O'Connor were sympathetic, but didn't support the resolution.

Peterson said Sjoberg's written statements in support of the resolution might be considered objectionable.

"What I'm afraid will happen is that people will fight and argue about the whereases and never get to the resolution," she said.

She said the new library board could rescind the resolution, too.

Rich Vanselow, the Hudson City Council's representative on the library board, said that if he considered only the library's interests, he could support the resolution.

But as a member of City Council, he has to consider other city needs, too, such as streets and the police department.

"Where do you put your money? What level of library service do we consider to be adequate?" Vanselow asked.

In his justification for asking the partners to increase library funding, Sjoberg noted that residents of the municipalities were required to fund the joint library and pay a county library levy because the level of municipal funding for the joint library didn't meet minimum state standards.

Because of inadequate funding, "staffing needs have not been met, hours of operation have been slashed to the lowest by far among (the library's) peer group, meeting rooms are closed, adult programming suffers, books are in short supply, and foundations are unable to provide any capital campaign dollars," Sjoberg's resolution stated.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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