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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : regional May 26, 2016

6/19/2014 1:11:00 PM
Supervisors discuss library district future

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

COTTONWOOD - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors had a long philosophical talk about the county's Library District Monday, including the idea of user fees.

They concluded it's too late to make any major changes for the coming budget year that starts July 1, however, so they will stick with the same library budget and continue to talk about library district changes.

During their annual budgeting process the supervisors have been considering a petition with about 600 signatures seeking a library in Paulden.

That unincorporated community isn't likely to get a library during the coming year because the supervisors didn't appropriate any extra money.

Supervisor Craig Brown, whose district includes Paulden, said Tuesday that the county will continue to pursue the use and renovation of the Paulden volunteer fire department building if it can get a lease or purchase for next to nothing. The fire department is no longer in operation after the community was annexed into the Chino Valley Fire District.

However, the county hasn't budgeted any money for Paulden library staff, Brown noted.

The Paulden petition led to Monday's broader discussion about the library district's finances. It runs mostly off a countywide property tax rate of 0.1491, a drop of 10 percent from the previous year. The supervisors cut the library and Flood Control property tax levies last year in order to increase the county's general fund levy and keep overall county taxes the same.

Arizona began allowing counties to create library districts in 1986, and Yavapai's was created the following year. Its property tax covers about $450,000 annually for the Yavapai Library Network that shares books and other resources throughout the county's 42 member libraries.

The members together pay about $175,000 annually for new technology and upgrades, Library District Director Barbara Kile explained.

Supervisor Chip Davis said he wants a lower library tax rate and he suggested ideas such as shorter library hours, more volunteers, and/or a revised cost-sharing formula between the district and its members.

The Library District also pays to operate 12 rural libraries, so its total annual budget is about $4.17 million and it has an $800,000 shortfall this year. The supervisors agreed to cover the shortfall with the remaining money in the district's contingency fund.

The entire network has 149,665 active library cardholders or 71 percent of the county population, Kile said. Total circulation is 2.3 million items.

Supervisor Tom Thurman said he bets that 90-95 percent of the county's residents never use libraries, so user fees would be appropriate. He suggested $5/library card or $10/family.

"I don't use the library," he said. "I get everything I want on the Internet."

Currently each county resident pays an average of $2.38 per year to support the library district.

The district won't get state grants if it charges fees, Kile said.

Prescott City Council Member Steve Blair drove to the meeting in Cottonwood to express his views about that city's library and the library district.

"We need to look at the system," Blair said. "It's broken."

Cottonwood, Prescott and Prescott Valley all built huge libraries and now they're having a hard time maintaining them, Supervisor Rowle Simmons said.

After books, the DVDs and VHS tapes are the most popular thing to check out at the county's libraries. Blair said that competes with private business.

Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodder

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Wacka Wacka

@ No Harm In User Fees

You check your property tax bill lately?
I think we all pay a "user fee" already.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Laura Patterson

Libraries are a /public/ service. Contrary to popular belief, they are not expendable, nor are they a dated institution (though they will be if funding continues to be shirked).

The library is the only place where people in Cottonwood can rent movies and other optical media there are no private businesses in Cottonwood that would suffer as a result, but of course the county wouldn't be aware of that because none of them have probably ever even been to Cottonwood (but that's a story for another day).

Our libraries are not just for renting and ordering books and AV items county wide, they are a resource that give many residents access to a computer, printing services, and free wifi which is a necessity in modern times. Most importantly, we offer job services, and many, many educational and recreational programs for children that many/most parents wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. Kids need printers and internet access for school, and they need mental stimulation so that they can become productive members of society.

We in Cottonwood are a busy library and are already staffed to the brim with dedicated volunteers all of our paid staff members are necessary and cutting so much as one employee would be very difficult for us. Tom Thurman "bets" 90-95% of residents don't use the library? Might want to get some actual statistics before you whip out the blade and continue to cut down what could be a valuable institution.

Even as a child of the internet who has access to the internet at home and uses it regularly, I recognize the importance of the library and it's wealth of resources of things that you actually can't get online.

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014
Article comment by: Liz Gooslin

And what about the family across the street whose parents would rather buy beer and smokes and even 5-10 dollars for a library card is not going to happen? Those kids are no longer allowed to come to the library? (Which may well be thier best safe haven from the daily chaos of thier lives.) I understand that most people do have that extra money to pay user fees, but not all of them do, and the ones that cant afford it are the ones that need the libraries most of all. The library provides free internet access to all, free information to all, without judgement or censorship. Oh, by the way, the internet is the only way to apply for many jobs now. If you lose your job and then your internet access, how do you even look for or apply for a new job? Users who are checking out books and movies arent affecting local businesses much, as alot of them couldnt afford to buy or rent that movie somewhere else anyway. Library volunteers are already making up a huge lack in staffing, how many more reliable unpaid workers can we really expect to attract? Im very glad that our county supervisors are making plenty of money to take care of all thier needs, but please try to remember that not all of us are in that boat and that libraries provide an irreplaceable resource to our communities.

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: No Harm In User Fees

I see no harm in a small annual user fee for our libraries. Pay say 5 bucks a year and use all of the services and programs you want.
Computers aren't free. For those who can't afford technology at home, $5 is a fabulous deal. That is a year folks...not per trip. Heck even 10 bucks would be a deal.

Libraries used to be repositories of knowledge because all of our knowledge was in printed form. This is changing. Libraries are becoming computer centers. Knowledge is electronic.

To refute how many people use the libraries, do a one month visitors count. Simple as that. How many folks per day come through the doors.

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: Wacka Wacka

Mr. Tom "I get in on the Internet" Thurman is a trade tech "graduate" and never spent a day in college.

Fortunately for Mr. Thurman the people that invested and built his Internet spent many, many hours in library's.

This is what happens when we "Aim Low" in our elected officials.

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: Anne Roberts

Tom Thurman, shame on you. The library is a haven for all, not just the well off. Most folks who come are trying to better their situation, and don't have a lot of money to spare. The Cottonwood Public Library is constantly offering programs to children and adults alike to promote literacy, and to help them prepare to succeed in life. Many families do not have the technology at home that you so glibbly speak of. How many online services that provide education, technology, test prep, or job searches are free? Libraries are the heart of our communities, and provide so much more than just access books. Andrew Carnegie would be rolling in his grave. And if you don't know who Andrew Carnegie is, find out at your local library. It's free.

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: Ima Reader

Really, Mr. Thurman? You don't use the library because you can get everything you want on the Internet??? What a lucky, lucky guy! What happens when you can't afford the Internet because you don't have a JOB? What will you do then, huh? I'm betting you'll be running to the library where the Wi-Fi is FREE!!!

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: Book Worm

This article disgusts me. Libraries and librarians serve many purposes, more than you might think. No we don’t just sit around reading books all day. We help a person find jobs, in turn helping the local economy. We provide internet access to many who can’t afford it. We teach classes. We provide many early literacy programs to get children excited about reading. We have technology that many lower class families just don’t have access to. Most importantly we are a depository of knowledge, knowledge that should always be free to obtain. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what your local library can do for you.

You may not know, but your library card allows you access to many free online resources like Overdrive, Zinio and Universal Class (free ebooks/audiobooks, free magazines and free education). Your local librarian will be happy to show you how all of these work.

I understand budgets are tight and funding will always be an issue. I understand that libraries will never be a money maker for the county. But shame on you Tom Thurman. “Betting” 90-95% of the county doesn't even use the library. Really? Really Tom? Unbelievable. Maybe you need to come in to your local library and check out some math books. Or better yet, just come into one of our wonderful libraries in the county, get a *FREE* library card and see what we have to offer.

With that I leave you with one of my favorite Neil Gaiman quotes:

“It's still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.”

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Janet Loy

Mr Thurman appears to be speaking off the cuff. What evidence does he present to support his comment that 90-95% of county residents don't use a library? Just because he gets all his information from the internet doesn't justify denying others access due to user fees. Libraries provide invaluable service to county residents including access to the internet.

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