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Lanesboro City Council Report: SELCO funding reduction explained to council

Fri, Dec 21st, 2007
Posted in Government

LANESBORO - At the request of the Lanesboro City Council, Ann Hutton from SELCO (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating) attended the regular meeting on December 17 to explain the reason that the Lanesboro Public Library is receiving $4,000 less this year from the state.

The towns in Fillmore County receive state funding through SELCO, and next year, more money is being given to the county. However, due to the formula that allocates the funds to the towns, Lanesboro, Spring Valley and Mabel will all be receiving a cut in their 2008 budget.

According to Hutton, in 2004 SELCO started using a formula that took a five-year average of distribution to rural residents. They used the data from 1998-2002, and all cities received an increase in funding. This year, when the contract was renewed, the people negotiating decided to stick to the same formula.

Hutton explained that although circulation in Lanesboro has gone up, it has gone up even more in other cities, and those places received more money.

"There were several other cities that gave more service," she added. "Not better service, but more service. In cities like Lanesboro, there was less use in proportion to the rest of the county."

The formula that has been used to allocate state money is written in the actual contract. According to Hutton, it can't be changed, even though she doesn't think it's necessarily fair. The county is going in the right direction, however, and residents in rural areas are using the services of their libraries.

"That's the background on an unpleasant situation for your community," said Hutton.

The fact that three cities lost money for next year makes Hutton feel that the formula should not be in the next contract so there is some flexibility in deciding how to distribute the money. There is three years left on this contract.

City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman asked if library boards are legally allowed to sign contracts. Hutton said they are, but the city council approves the contract before it is signed. She added that having the board sign the contract is a visual reminder that they are the people giving the service to the community.

Capital Planning

Vickerman asked the council to decide on the capital improvement project that will be done in 2008. She recommended doing Whittier Street and Maple Drive, as both those projects would fit into the budget for next year's planning. The council approved those projects.

An assessment policy will need to be adopted in the next month to make time for a public hearing. Dillon Dumbrovski from Yaggy Colby will be looking over the policy with Vickerman one more time to make sure they have included everything. Their hope is to have the policy in place before construction will begin in the spring.

Other business

• The council approved a three-month probationary salary increase to $29,700 for Library Director Jill Veerkamp.

• The 2008 budget and levy were approved with a final tax levy of $382,576.

• City employees will have the entire day off for Christmas Eve. They were owed some hours off for work done during the flooding.

• A policy change was made for city employees regarding PTO (Paid Time Off). The amount of PTO that can be rolled over from one year to another increases the longer an employee has worked there. There are some employees that have been working for the city many years and are losing PTO days each year. Vickerman wanted to make a minor change where new PTO days are added on January 1.

Council member Tom Dybing made a suggestion that if a person couldn't use their PTO days they could come before the council and request rolling it over to the next year. He also suggested that employees could get paid at the end of the year for their PTO days not used.

• The city has received several complaints about snowmobiles driving on private property. The City Attorney said that it is trespassing, but enforcement of the law is very difficult. The city has talked to the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) as well as the snowmobile club and they have talked about better signage to show where the trail is located.

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