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Act 150 library reimbursement increase request denied

Pierce County Libraries will not be receiving more county funds this year to carry out expansion plans for technology resources and community outreach.

The motion to provide the libraries with a reimbursement increase of 5 percent to bring the total to 85 percent failed at the Finance and Personnel Committee meeting on Aug. 6.

The second motion to keep the reimbursement at 80 percent passed.

At the Monday evening meeting, Ellsworth Public Library Director Tiffany Meyer represented the county's libraries, outlining how the County Act 150 contribution could benefit each library this year:

• 10-year-old computers could be replaced at Elmwood; educational programs could continue being offered; and offer the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten early literacy program

• Ellsworth's community engagement could expand; technology accessibility and outreach to the care center, the assisted living facility, the jail and the school could continue

• Outreach services at Plum City could include home delivery services for people unable to reach the library; mobile hotspots could be provided to lessen digital divide; and offer Chromebooks along with digital literacy training

• Prescott could establish more connections with schools, daycares and senior centers; programming and activities for all ages could be implemented; and more printed and electronic materials could be offered

• River Falls could expand opportunities for child literacy and provide attractive children's books with ensured availability to materials

• Spring Valley could enhance their Summer Reading Program; offer author visits; acquire books requested by local teachers and students; and maintain public computers so low-income families may have access to job-searching services

In 2016 the libraries were receiving 70 percent funding from the county which is the statutory minimum. The board has increased the reimbursement by 10 percent since then.

Meyer also reported that Pierce County Libraries, averaging a little over 26,000 registered borrowers, have a total average of 279,195 annual visits and a program attendance of nearly 18,900 children according to 2017 state annual reports.

Other discussions

• Just Fix It transportation resolution was sent forward to the full county board and was requested that it be adopted on first reading

• Applications for a new Administrative Coordinator are wanted from internal candidates. Finance and Personnel Committee Chair Jeff Holst said it would be better for the community to choose internally rather than finding out two years later a hired person from outside isn't a good fit.

• The 2019 Corporation Counsel budget has remained unchanged for many years, but there is a 3 percent increase from 2018 which is due to personnel expenses and an online legal research contract with Thomson Reuters.

• The County Clerk's budgets saved money this year.

• Revenue was decreased on the Register of Deeds' budget as revenue was lower than expected, even lower than 2016 and 2017.

• Health insurance for an employee was added to the Treasurer's Budget for 2019, along with an approved increase in hours for that position.

• Closed session consisted of an annual litigation update. No action came out of the discussion.

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