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Committee meets to discuss library funding

A fundraising committee met on behalf of the Pine River Public library on July 8 to discuss library funding options.

The meeting attracted approximately 12 people representing the Pine River City Council, the public, the Pine River Library Foundation, and the Kitchigami Regional Library System. Discussion revealed that fundraising done by the foundation might not be the solution the council was looking for.

“As a foundation, if we raise money we have to raise it for our whole service area. The city would only get twenty some percent benefit from that,” Steve Hansen of the foundation said. “If they are looking to raise money to offset the rent or the cost of the library, they are going to have to do that themselves, and the implication was they thought the foundation would do that for them.”

The call for fundraising initially came at a June 25 planning meeting when members of the Pine River City Council asked the library, and those present, to form a committee to raise funds to offset maintenance and repair costs in the library in hopes that this would eliminate the need for increases in the city’s lease expenses for the library. The goal was to raise as much as $1,400. The July 8 committee meeting may have eliminated that possibility.

“Part of the miscommunication was we signed the new lease in 2010. So in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 the rent has been the same. The foundation has absorbed all operating cost increases such as insurance, gas, all those kinds of things. We’ve not increased the rent basically because the city has been in a financial funk. We can no longer absorb that aspect,” Hansen said.

The foundation is hoping to increase reserves for the library in case of emergency maintenance and repair needs. This would be done by increasing lease fees to cover operating cost increases. The library roof is also still being paid for.

Between a June 11 regular city council meeting and the June 25 planning and zoning meeting, it was made clear that there were misunderstandings between the city and the foundation concerning who was responsible for what expenses, among other issues. The fundraising committee did not create a plan for fundraising on July 8, but did begin planning to improve communication, and eliminate misunderstandings between the city and the foundation.

“The foundation is going to provide the city operating or financial reports about the building,” Hansen said.

Hansen also said that the city should also look into their agreements, contracts and leases between Kitchigami and the library foundation to make sure they understand their responsibilities.

Hansen also stressed the importance of the Pine River Public Library.

“This library has one of the highest usages there is. In 75 percent and more of the people that use that library are pulled from outside the community of Pine River, and many many communities that host a library pay significantly more,” Hansen said.