Weather Forecast


Ridge presents 2008 library budget to City Council

Marian Ridge, the Kitchigami Regional Library director, attended Monday's Bemidji City Council meeting to present KRL's 2008 budget - and to field questions from councilors.

The city of Bemidji's library levy ($101,284) is 3 percent higher in 2008 than 2007. Additionally, the city's automation repair and replacement commitment is $7,715.

However, the state's maintenance of effort dictates that that the city of Bemidji must budget at least $152,949 toward its library, including both the regional library system and the local library building.

Ridge noted that state funding increased for 2008, which is why some budget lines - including technical support, rotating collections and delivery - seem to have experienced a decrease in funding.

That didn't really happen, Ridge said, explaining that increased funding from the Legislature covered the difference.

The local dollars are set to cover wages and benefits for the five full-time and four part-time Bemidji Public Library employees and substitutes, which increased about $20,000 for 2008. They also will help offset increased materials costs for books and periodicals will be higher next year.

Councilor Onen Markeson asked Ridge why the council last year was told it would receive an explanation or breakdown of KRL responsibilities and costs by county when that information never was presented to the council.

He said the KRL system gets increased funding from the state due to the number of low-income residents in Beltrami County - and Markeson wanted to know how those state aid dollars were being spent.

It is too difficult to separate the KRL responsibilities by county, Ridge said. The KRL system serves Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard and Wadena counties through a mobile library and nine branches.

She explained that it is easy to say that driving from Bemidji to Blackduck or vice versa is a benefit for Beltrami County. But what about driving from Park Rapids to Bemidji, she asked. You would not need to make the trip if both Hubbard and Beltrami counties were not in the same library system, Ridge explained.

Also, what about when she applies for state and federal grants that would benefit the KRL system, which includes Beltrami County, Ridge said, asking how she should divide her time on such efforts.

"It's very, very difficult," Ridge said.

Compiling such a break-down was attempted, she said, but it was too difficult to gauge the cost for duties to one county, because the KRL system would not exist without contributions from all five counties.

"We believe it's proportionate," she said.

When Markeson asked if the city would not then be receiving the information that he said was previously promised, Ridge said the KRL system is a "very complex structure."

"It's not that we didn't want to (provide that information), but it's very, very difficult," she said.

Markeson then asked if the city would receive information about the allocation of state aid dollars in the future.

"It's a substantial amount," he said.

Ridge replied that she would take his request to the KRL board.

Councilor Barb Meuers told Ridge that the City Council appreciates the work of Paul Ericsson, the new librarian of the Bemidji Public Library. Meuers said the council has voiced its support of Ericsson in the past, but never to Ridge herself. Meuers mentioned specifically that the council appreciates Ericsson's monthly librarian reports at City Council meetings.

Ridge thanked Meuers for her comments - and then added that Ericsson's position is paid for in part through state funds.