District members favor adding amendment on administrative costs
BY KEVIN BONESKE
A new Rhinelander District Library contract has been drafted after representatives from the five municipalities in the library district approved one amendment and rejected another offered by the city of Rhinelander at Monday’s meeting at the Newbold Town Hall.
Pending approval from all the municipal governments involved, the amendment favored by the district members calls for the cost of administrative services provided by the city – such as for accounting, bookkeeping and payroll services – to be charged to the library district, rather than being provided at no additional charge as in the past. However, that amendment also calls for the city to contribute an additional amount to offset those charges.
Rhinelander alderman Alex Young said the amendment would not result in the towns having to pay more money for those administrative services.
“The intent and the language that’s right here is that we (the city) would charge a fee, we would charge an amount, but then we would make an additional contribution to wash that,” said Young, who also noted the administrative costs would be reflected in the overall library budget and could bring in some additional cross-county fees, based on the cost per circulation, as a result of patrons from adjacent counties using the library.
Last month, the city rejected an amendment backed by the towns to change the funding formula, which currently calls for a tax levy from the municipalities to pay for the library district’s operating budget, based half on each municipality’s respective ratio of equalized property value to the total value of all the municipalities and half on each municipality’s ratio of population to the total population of the district.
The rejected amendment would have based population on the most recent census, instead of the state of Wisconsin’s estimate for the previous year, and also called for levy limit adjustments, in which no municipality’s share to the library district would have been able to increase from the previous year by a percentage greater than the percentage increase allowed to the municipality for its total property tax levy as determined by the state.
For municipalities in which the funding formula’s increase would have been a lower percentage than the percentage increase allowed for the total property tax levy, that amendment would have called for them to increase their shares by equal percentages to meet the financial needs of the library.
Though the city didn’t present a specific proposal at Monday’s meeting to limit funding amounts for the municipalities, Young, who noted a municipality could request the formation of an arbitration committee in an effort to limit its funding contribution, suggested that any cap be placed on the library’s funding request.
“I don’t know if I would agree with that, because that doesn’t address the individual municipal issues,” said Newbold town chairman Dave Kroll. “The levy limits aren’t across the board on an equal basis annually to each of the municipalities.”
The amendment introduced by the city to the funding formula called for using a three-year average, rather than the previous year’s numbers for equalized property value and population to determine the percentage each municipality would contribute to the district library. Based on figures presented at the meeting, however, that would have changed each municipality’s percent of the total by less than a percent.
The city’s amendment to the funding formula was defeated for lack of a second by another municipality.
Following Monday’s meeting, the draft of a new contract put together by the townships and provided to the city included the amendment the district members backed for the administrative services with the other wording similar to the existing contract that took effect Jan. 1, 2006.
“I think it’s fair to say I think we are nearing the point where a new contract will be circulated for signatures,” Young said. “Of course, this will need to be reviewed by the city attorney and all parties to make sure it reflects what we have tentatively agreed to.”
Though any one of the five municipalities in the library district could vote against the proposed new agreement, Young said, “I think for the most part folks are ready to move on for now and revisit the issue if the need arises in the future – hopefully a decade from now!”
The new contract draft leaves blank the effective date for a new agreement.