by Hudson Star-Observer
January 31, 2013 at 9:09 am in Hudson Star-Observer
8 Comments »
Have they ever looked into an all or mostly volunteer operation to cut costs? I think libraries will be a thing of the past except on college campuses relatively soon.
Like or Dislike: 9 12
Facts are that use of the Hudson Area Library from 2000 through 2012–in the internet age–has increased much more than the population of the area has grown. Now, on average, every day more than 500 people use the HAL and check out more than 1,000 items, and over half of Hudson city residents are active library users.
It was an interesting council discussion.
Some council members apparently do not understand that the Hudson Area Library is not a private nonprofit like the YMCA or a sports club; rather, the HAL is a public joint library formed by four municipalities under provisions of Wisconsin’s library law (Wis. Stat. Chapter 43).
Some council members were unaware that the council has annually received and reviewed the HAL budget prior to allocating public funding to this public entity, and were unaware that the HAL budget is available to the public.
Some council members seemed unaware of basic provisions in the joint library agreement, which in 2002 transformed what had been the public Hudson municipal library into the public Hudson Area Library. Under that agreement, if the HAL is dissolved by the withdrawal of the Town of Hudson, Town of St. Joseph, and Village of North Hudson, then the HAL will revert to a Hudson municipal library.
Some council members seemed not to understand that, under the current St. Croix County library tax system, a Hudson municipal library would receive reimbursement from the County library tax at 100% of circulation costs for library use by people who reside outside of the City of Hudson, rather than be reimbursed at only the minimum 70% rate set in state law.
Please read the report on the Hudson Area Library (HAL) presented to the Council on 1/28/13, at http://www.ci.hudson.wi.us/pdf/NewB.PDF, and watch the meeting video, at http://hudson-wi.patch.com/articles/video-city-of-hudson-common-council-meeting-jan-28-2013#youtube_video-13157201.
Like or Dislike: 10 10
If they would have left the library where it was there would not have been a problem. The current location should have been left commercial. Another mess created by local government.
Like or Dislike: 15 11
They plan even more poorly than the school board. They seem to think if they ask they will receive because everyone has buckets of extra money laying around…
What is the vision? You boondoggled your way into the prime location, now what are you going to do?
Like or Dislike: 15 9
Reminds me of the old hospital deal. Did we actually pay a million dollars for that vacant lot?
Like or Dislike: 14 11
According to local news articles, the City of Hudson, not the Hudson Area Library (HAL) Board and not the HAL Foundation, in late 2009 negotiated the purchase of the building that now houses the City police department and the public joint library.
In 2008 the HAL Foundation had proposed moving the public joint library to the building it now occupies, but referenda authorizing tax levies to purchase the building for the HAL failed to pass in all four municipalities.
But in 2009 then City of Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson resurrected the idea of the building being used for public purposes, after a study found the City’s police department and other public safety departments needed additional space, and he proposed moving the police department and the HAL into the building. In interviews at the time, Mayor Knudson explained that he envisioned the HAL would eventually buy the building and the police department would eventually move into a new public safety building build by the City.
In December 2009, the Hudson City Council approved the City’s purchase of the building for $2.5 million, which, thanks to the intervening economic reset of the Great Recession, was about half the estimated purchase price in 2008.
In 2010, after the HAL Board and the City entered into an agreement regarding the City’s lease of a portion of the building to the public joint library, the HAL moved into the building. That lease agreement may have included a future option to purchase the building for the public joint library, but it apparently did not create an obligation to purchase the building from the City.
See, Hudson Star Observer articles:
*Hudson Area Joint Library Board Approves Lease Agreement (12/16/2009);
*Hudson City Council Purchases Building for Shared Library/Police Facility (12/10/2009);
*Interview with Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson (11/12/2009); and
*Hudson City Council Plans to Buy Building for Possible Police/Library Facility (10/22/2009).
Like or Dislike: 8 8
You seem to point out what council members didn’t know and what was done in previous years. You also fail to mention that there are only 2 council members left from the purchase of the building and that the questions asked during the meeting were part of a discussion to have a better understanding. I am sure writing as if they are naive will help your cause. You also fail to mention that some of those very same pro-library people that were at the meeting promised to fund raise and buy the building. Private of Public doesn’t really matter. If the HAL goes under the responsibility to the City then maybe the City should move it to a smaller location since the service area paying for the library would only be City residents. Once again this council is in a situation to clean up mistakes of the past yet there is zero respect for information gathering to get a better understanding. Just more complaining. How about the fliers around town that said the Library was closing? Seems to me those were false. I read that a 5th grader made up that flier, somehow I doubt that. I sure hope the City makes the right decision on this one since our taxes will be the one taking the hit. Of course though you have no problem advocating for the Library to become a municipal library cause it won’t effect your taxes. You don’t live in the City limits. Oh wait it will….yours will go down and mine will go up. It all makes sense now.
Like or Dislike: 7 5
The “cause” I’ve written in support of, Jack, is a thoughtful discussion informed by accurate facts relevant to the issue under discussion.
The facts about taxes to fund the public joint library in Hudson are that, currently, property owners in the four municipalities (CIty of Hudson, Village of North Hudson, and Towns of Hudson and St. Joseph) that now provide partial funding to the Hudson Area Library (HAL) pay two property tax assessments to support public libraries within St. Croix County: a municipal property tax assessment that funds the municipal support for the HAL, plus the St. Croix County library tax that does not go to support the HAL.
If the HAL reverts to a Hudson municipal library because the municipalities other than the City of Hudson withdraw from the joint library agreement, then property owners in those municipalities that withdraw will still pay property taxes that will support the Hudson municipal library. In that event, property owners in the Village of North Hudson, Town of Hudson, and Town of St. Joseph will continue to be assessed the County library tax, and, unlike the current situation where the HAL does not receive the County library tax money generated from within the four municipal members of the HAL, the Hudson municipal library will receive funding collected through the County library tax based in part on library usage by people living in the Village of North Hudson, Town of Hudson, and Town of St. Joseph.
Regardless of whether the HAL reverts to a Hudson municipal library, property owners within the City of Hudson could be exempted from paying the County library tax in the future. An exemption from the County library tax assessment most likely would be offset by an increase in the municipal assessment for library funding, but the likely result would be that the total property tax amount paid for the purpose of library funding would not increase. And, unlike the current County library tax assessment that does not fund the public library in Hudson, the municipal assessment for library funding would go to the public library in Hudson.
In order for property owners within any of the four municipalities that formed the HAL to be exempted from also paying the County library tax, the municipality must fund the HAL in an amount at least equal to what the County would pay to the municipality for library services. This amount is set by state law at a minimum 70% reimbursement rate for the costs of circulation, but since 2011 this amount has been set by the County at a 100% reimbursement rate. For the past several years, none of the four municipalities in the HAL have met the County funding requirement that would exempt property owners in those municipalities from the County library tax, and for 2013 fell short by a total of $415,000. For 2013, the four municipalities did not even meet the state minimum funding requirement, but fell short by a total of $225,000.
Funding for local public libraries is a complicated topic–it’s governed by state law in Wis. Stat. Chapter 43 on Libraries, as well as by St. Croix County ordinances. There’s a need for all of us to research this topic and educate ourselves regarding the Hudson Area Library.
See: Library funding pursuant Wisconsin Statute Chapter 43, 7/26/2012, Memo from St. Croix County Counsel to County Board, prepared for 8/7/2012 Board meeting
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