August 25, 2023 at 1:52 p.m.
East Central Regional Library budgetary needs explained explained
The library system is seeking a four percent increase in its budget for 2024 mostly to accommodate usage growth. Data for the system show 32 percent of Chisago County residents are in possession of a library card. Other member counties are as low as seven percent. The number two county is Isanti with 22 percent of its residents attached to a library card.
The county commissioners heard last week that projected increased costs of personnel for 2024 are being mainly covered using a state library funding formula increase.
The formula on which the East Central Regional Library branches base their contributions to the multi-county system is 33 percent on tax capacity, 33 percent on population and 33 percent on resident borrower activity (circulation.). Chisago County is up over recent years in all three categories, and this works into the 2024 library system maintenance of effort.
Carla Lydon, ECRL Director, told the County Board last week the local libraries (Chisago County has four) “...offer so much more than books.”
She noted there were 500 organizations which reserved the community rooms in Chisago County libraries. There were 6,000 computer terminal users on sign-up logs and wireless use connections came to 6,500. The library also loans out hotspots.
The libraries host countless programs for visitors, from youth all the way through the generations to Medicare and Veterans’ benefits information sessions.
The libraries in Chisago County spend $12.33 annually per capita to support the ECRL, Lydon continued. Other non-ECRL system counties, ie: Anoka spent $24 and Washington County was at $34.79 per capita.
County Commissioner Jim Swenson, North Branch, serves on the library board for Chisago County. He said the group has trimmed the proposed budget to a very lean number.
Swenson said, “It will be tough to change” should the county seek a reduction.”
Traditionally the ECRL member counties that reduce their contribution also see local service levels cutback an equivalent amount.
The four branches here, Rush City, North Branch, Wyoming and Chisago Lakes, received a total $638,077 value in system benefits in 2022, including presentations and programs held only in Chisago County branches.
Between 2020 and 2021 the ECRL budget was basically frozen at $2.1 million, but for 2022 it was $2.2 million and this year is $2.3 million.
The 2024 budget is requested to be adopted by the counties at $2.4 million.
Each county also chips-in to help the system for expenses for internet, office equipment like copy machines, for additional materials, at an average price of $12 per item and annual licensing for the region was $48,892 over all last year.