Municipalities agree to less than 1 percent increase
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
The five municipalities that make up the Rhinelander Library District held an arbitration meeting Monday to set the library’s 2017 budget. The district, comprised of the towns of Crescent, Newbold, Pelican, Pine Lake and the city of Rhinelander earlier rejected the library’s budget request of a 2.25 percent increase. Newbold Town Chair David Kroll was nominated to lead the meeting.
“When we looked at our budget compared to what we could afford to share, we thought the budget was a little more than our portion could handle,” said Pine Lake Town Chair, Jim Flory, who requested arbitration. Crescent Town Chair Bill Treder and Rhinelander Finance, Wage and Salary Committee chair Mark Pelletier each indicated they, too, favored arbitration. Treder said Crescent simply doesn’t have any additional money available.
“This year we have a levy increase of .056 percent,” Treder said. “Our budget increase would be $313 over last year; the library is asking for an increase of over $3,000 which means we’d have to pull money from our roads or fire department to make up the difference.”
Much of the library budget increase was earmarked for wages and additional hours that have been consistently decreased over the last six years, according to Rhinelander District Library Director, Virginia Roberts.
“[The additional hours are needed] so I can do the things and others can do the things that are required at a library, such as administrative duties, writing grants that people keep asking about, providing programming,” Roberts said. “These are hours that are required for me to do my job.”
Pelletier noted that the city council realizes “everyone is understaffed.”
“At the city, we are going into a zero percent wage increase and zero percent hour increase,” he said. “It’s hard to do that and pass on something like that.”
Treder suggested that to support the library and be fair to the budgets of the towns, the library’s increase could be connected to levy limits.
“The levy limits are what is guiding us,” Treder said. “I would like to see an offer for the budget of the library equal to the percentages of levy increase to each town.”
A motion to that effect was made and approved. The municipalities will contribute an additional .713 percent, or $6,570.39 to the RDL 2016 budget. The library’s 2017 budget is $928,329.39. Figures from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction show that approximately 75 percent of the library’s revenue comes from the towns and city of Rhinelander, and roughly 18 percent from Oneida County. The remainder of the budget revenue is from other counties and fundraising, grants and other sources.