Will a library in Polk County have to be cut?
District 1 Polk County Commissioner Craig Buness of Crookston is concerned that the Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) and its preliminary deficit of $60,000 are headed in the wrong direction. Being on the LARL board himself, he has seen the stress they are under from not wanting to dip into their reserves.
"We cut $210,000 for this current year," said Buness. "In all honesty, if we're gonna get out from underneath this deficit spending, it might end up being a library or two cut somewhere throughout the area."
Buness is worried that a cut might happen in Polk County within one of its five libraries.
"I'm concerned for Polk County," explained Buness. "McIntosh and Fosston are only a few miles apart. I'm only one voice on there, though. Smaller libraries and smaller links have been very productive. The cost to operate is small. Maybe we need to take another look at that."
Buness added, "The City of Moorhead ended up cutting out Sundays at the library to save money and it seems to be working well."
While the City of Crookston and Polk County have upped their contributions for their libraries, Buness is worried that the funding formula for Legacy dollars could hurt northern counties because of population loss.
"Some of the counties within LARL have lost population," said Buness. "Metro areas are gaining and Legacy dollars don't allow for brick and mortar or staffing. It used to be that we never had to worry about this, the money always came. Now we're stretching counties and their budgets while labor and everything creeps up. We gotta make some adjustments. We're caught in a real tough situation."
The LARL's next full board meeting is today, Wednesday, at 5:30 p.m. in Detroit Lakes.