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County will pay the same for 2010 library services

The levy requirement for Wadena County to maintain Kitchigami Regional Library System services in 2010 is the same as 2009, Director Marian Ridge informed the county board.

A proposed budget of $90,587 will cover the county's portion of the estimated $146,837 cost of providing library services in Wadena County, she said. The proposed levy for the city of Wadena is $56,350.

The regional library board was very conservative in developing budget proposals for 2010, Ridge said.

"Every effort was made to stabilize the levies in recognition that our cities and counties were also facing difficult times in this economy," she said.

Mobile library services are one of the most significant costs for Wadena County, Ridge said. The county is also one of KRLS's most significant users of the system.

"The Nimrod, Sebeka and Menahga stops are amongst the busiest mobile library stops in the region," she said.

Menahga, in particular, has long been a heavy user of the mobile library, Ridge said.

County board Chairman Dave Schermerhorn pointed out that Menahga was the site of 700 loans during a three-hour stop in June.

Ridge said that is a record for the region.

"That's a staggering volume," she said. "Not even our Brainerd library can meet that in terms of volume. It's a tremendously well-used service."

The 2010 budget retains the mobile library's biweekly service to the three stops in the county, Ridge said. But, like it had to do this year, the library plans to close one stop in January and December.

Of course, there can be changes before the final budget is approved, she said. KRLS is anticipating a couple of changes that will allow the library to reduce some costs. If so, it won't have to close the county's mobile library stops as much, she said. A new joint powers agreement starting in January would free up $800 that could be moved toward the mobile library. Also, anticipated health insurance costs are now estimated to be much lower than when the budget was first developed, she said.

Commissioner Rodney Bounds asked why there is no longer a mobile library stop in Verndale.

Ridge said the library has not stopped in Verndale for almost a decade because people stopped using it. Wadena is so close that they just came there.

"There hasn't been demand from Verndale," she said. "They're more interested in making sure the Wadena library is open hours that are convenient for them to get to."

The Wadena City Library is, of course, the most significant cost for the county, Ridge said. Personnel costs are only going up moderately for 2010. Communications costs were cut almost in half, certainly a third, she said, because the regional board is moving the costs for voice and data lines onto state dollars. Delivery will be retained at four days per week.