meeting draws large crowd
The Osgood Public Library Board held a special meeting for the
first reading of the 2011 budget on Tuesday, August 24. A large
crowd gathered, with many standing and several standing outside
the doors, to ask questions regarding the proposed increased tax
rate for residents of Osgood and Milan or to show support for
Board president Gene Pitts explained to those attending that the
board cannot answer questions regarding the tax rate at this meeting
as the information will not be received until after the submission
to the state for review.
Outgoing director Emily Kruse reported that the 2011 budget was
around $364,000 less than the 2010 budget of $378,000. Kruse explained
cuts were made in several areas and some expenses stayed the same
such as salaries and insurance benefits.
According to Kruse, there are areas that cannot be cut in order
to remain in compliance with the state requirements, such as hours
of operation, and still receive funding. We tried to be
as conservative as we could without taking away from what people
are contributing to, she said.
As this was the first hearing, the budget was not adopted at this
meeting but will be adopted at the September meeting. The budget
will then go on to the state for approval.
According to Pitts, the Department of Local Government and Finance,
DLGF, bases the tax rate on assessed property values as well as
the debt of an organization such as the library.
Pitts also noted that the board has discussed using a balance
of about $100,000 from the construction of the Milan branch to
help reduce the tax rate for those living in the library district.
Patrons were given an opportunity to speak. Because there were
several who wished to ask questions or express their opinions,
each patron was limited to three minutes. Questions regarding
tax rates were not answered by the board until further information
from the state was received.
Many opposed to the tax increase were farmers who feel that they
are paying more taxes than those who live in town with less property.
Others expressed their frustration with not getting the information
in a timely manner to discuss the issues with the board.
It feels like we dont have a voice, said Melissa
Crum, whose children attend Jac-Cen-Del schools. According to
Crum, the summer attendance is made up of those children who live
in town. We dont use the library in the summer because
my kids are working on the farm, she said.
John Peetz explained that although he is not anti-library, he
did not feel that there was a need for a new library. He asserted
that the location of the new Milan branch makes it difficult for
the children to visit. Peetz also noted that in his opinion the
library did not need as many employees such as two janitors and
He said that the proposed tax rate is higher than the county tax
rate for the general fund supporting all the county offices.
Daniel Day, Milan, does not own a farm but has seen a 46% increase
in his property taxes in the last four years. According to Day,
it is more important to have kids educated than to have a nice,
shiny new building.
Day stated that the boards statement that the tax rate is
not determined by them is a cop out. He requested
information on how he could reach those who did determine the
tax rate so that he could express his concerns.
Others requested that information such as an agenda, meeting minutes,
and claims be available for the public to review. According to
Pitts, the minutes from a previous meeting cannot be published
on the website without board approval.
Several patrons were in support of the library. Steve Pitts explained
that he is active at the state level to reduce property tax rates
through his job with Farm Bureau. We shouldnt get
mad at the library, he said. We need to support our
libraries and our schools.
Sandra Bowling, taxpayer and educator, uses the library every
week to help improve her students test scores. She suggested
that those in the library districts donate time, resources, or
money to the library. The library really gets used,
There were young people on hand to support the library. Hannah
Thompson, a student at the Milan schools, explained that she lives
on a farm and works on a farm but visits the library every week
to get books to read. According to Thompson, several of her fellow
students visit the library to get books, movies and to do research
for homework assignments.
The kids are the future regardless how you feel about whether
or not we should keep the library, Thompson said. The
library is a part of our community and it should stay that way.
Evan Smith said, My library is very important to me.
According to Smith, he read 20 books this summer from the Milan
Without the library, I would have run out of books to read,
he said. Smith uses the library for research projects when he
cannot find the information he needs at his school library. He
presented the board with a signed petition showing the importance
of the library.
Cheryl Corning, who is a farmer, is in full support of the library.
If we want to be a vibrant community, we need a library,
she said. She pointed out that her taxes went up, too, but believes
it is important for the children to have a library.
Corning noted that not all children can do their homework at home
or at school and the library provides resources for these students
to complete their assignments. I know those who use the
library benefit from it, she said. I dont think
we can afford to lose this.
The regular meeting was held after the special meeting for the
budget. Business included:
The board unanimously approved Patty Asche as Interim Director
at an increase of $2 more than her regular rate.
Compensation for Emily Kruse, for additional assistance
for the meeting, at the regular rate was approved.
Circulation at the Osgood library was up 22% in July from
last year and up 41% at the Milan branch in July.
The motion to use the remainder of the construction fund
and the balance of the Mable Lamb donation toward reducing debt
was approved 4-3 with Gene Pitts, Connie Coyle, and Sandra Gloyd
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 28 beginning
at 7 p.m. at the Osgood Library meeting room.
feels like we don't have a voice."
There was not an empty seat in the house
Tuesday night as a full house packed the Osgood Public
Library basement to hear the budget hearing. People were
standing around the room and even outside on the steps
where they said they couldn't hear what was being said
in the meeting.