Library seeks increase in city funds

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)
Posted 1/20/00

The Kalona Public Library Monday presented its fiscal 2000-01 budget, asking the council to consider an increase of $6,533 in the city’s allocation. The amount is part of a total budget increase of …

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Library seeks increase in city funds

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The Kalona Public Library Monday presented its fiscal 2000-01 budget, asking the council to consider an increase of $6,533 in the city’s allocation. The amount is part of a total budget increase of $8,904, most of which is to cover an increase in the director’s salary and the addition of a 10 hour per week clerk’s position.

The library needs the clerk position, explained Trustee Board President Scott Stapleton, because of the “heavy use made of the library once school is out.” He explained that the daily use between 3:30-5:30 p.m. is very busy.

He also noted that the library is open 42 hours per week, which amounts to a staffing of l.9 with the current personnel.

He added that such staffing is lower than comparable libraries.

The increase for the director would raise the wage to $12 hourly. However, Stapleton noted that the increase is no commensurate with the director’s qualifications (she has a MA in library science) or years of experience. Nor does it measure up to “what we would have to post were we looking for a new librarian.”

Noting comparisons with New London, Mayor Jean Gustafson asked how that town could pay its staff higher and have a separate building.

She stressed that the library receives “rent and utilities free and treasurer services free from the city.”

In looking at figures, it appeared that the city of New London provides approximately $70,000 for its library, compared to $36,000 in Kalona.

The Kalona figure is a combination of city allocation (currently $24,898) and the voter- approved special levy (currently $12,080).

The levy varies with current valuation, which led Gustafson, referring to a recent 14 percent valuation increase, to say,

“If everybody’s went up the same, then they’ll (the library) get their money that way.”

Councilman Ken Herington asked if the library personnel are city employees and was told that while they are “public employees,” they are not hired by the city. As a result, they do not receive city benefits, only what is arranged by the library board.

However, Herington noted that the wage increase for the director “amounts to 20 percent,” and wondered if that would cause problems with city employees.’ Councilman Jerry Kauffman said “Even with the raise, I think the salary is still less than any of the city employees’.”

City Administrator Doug Morgan suggested that “we wait until we know what the valuation is,” and said that the matter should be referred to the city’s Finance Committee “for review and a recommendation.”

Council members agreed.

Herington reported about the Emergency Management Agency and E911 board meeting that specifically dealt with replacing outdated communication equipment.

“It will cost $400,000 or more,” he said, adding “there is no choice. They have to have new equipment.”

He explained that the present equipment in the Washington County Safety Center “is outmoded, that they were told it is stupid to be spending the amount of money they are to keep it running.”

He detailed how the firm that handles maintenance “goes everywhere to find parts to keep it running for another week.”

He told the council that he expects the decision about spending money will be made at the February 10 meeting.

Kalona is the representative for all the small towns in the county.

He explained that the consultants have told the supervisors that the equipment needs to be housed in a separate building because “water comes into the present building’s basement and the equipment cannot be put there.”

There is a plan for an approximate $40,000 pre-cast building to be installed behind the present jail, he said.

He also explained that, “It will not cost Kalona anything more. It already is in our (law enforcement) contract.”

In other business, the council:

•approved purchasing easements from Lynn Helmuth, Dwight Bender and Keith Davisson for $500 each, for a total expenditure of $1,500.

•approved the revised draft of the library letter seeking information and submissions from architects for a new library facility.