UPDATE FROM THE ROAD: Stephanie wrote this peice just before we left, and we’re now sitting in the Marshall Library. The trend for increased use is certainly true. Lots of folks in here for a Thursday afternoon. Also, we’ve seen a couple of signs around for the "Support the Library Campaign"… it seems smart investments are popular here.
Lyon County Commissioners don’t want to levy the amount the county will lose in local government aid, according to the Marshall Independent. A preliminary budget proposal included a 3.8 percent increase which would levy about $150,000; however, county commissioner Mark Goodenow doesn’t want it to come to that, however.
"We’re not going to levy back the LGA cuts," Goodenow said this week. "We could, but that’s a one-time thing. What would we do after that?"
That leaves the county, and the city of Marshall, in a tough position, having lost state aid thanks to Governor Pawlenty’s reckless budget cuts earlier this year. Marshall has a new $5 million library in the works, without a consensus of how to finance it in this economy.
In city and county straw polls, the majority of people still support building the new library. Indeed, this echoes a trend for increased library use in tough economic times. The problem for the city of Marshall is how to fund the project. On that, there appears to be no consensus. The Marshall Independent reports that some options the city and county have discussed include moving ahead with a smaller plan or bonding for the new library.
County board chairman Rodney Stensrud said he thought the library board might still be looking for the county to put extra funding into the construction project. A possible option commissioners discussed was giving the library additional funding or a loan. Some said they would be alright with a temporary boost in contributions to the library, for example, an additional $144,000 spread over 12 years.
While libraries might not seem like the most important facet of the community, historically library use goes up in times of recession. The Mankato Free Press thinks this might be because luxuries like renting movies are among the first things to be cut from the family budget. That seems to be the case in Marshall as well—the support and desire for the library is definitely there, but the city does not have the funds to make it possible. Thanks to Governor Pawlenty and his friends in the Legislature, levies are increasing, projects are being delayed or eliminated, and cities are struggling to survive. We want a Minnesota that thrives, not one that is struggling to survive. Get involved by sharing your story of how budget cuts are affecting your community and then follow along as we wrap up the Thrive Drive this week!