Neil Soltis, Library Funding and the Week's News on Hudson Patch Live

Neil Soltis, City of Hudson finance officer, talks about what a recent recommendation from the county's administration committee means for library funding and the budgets of the joint library municipalities.

Neil Soltis, finance officer, joined me this week and we talked about how a recent recommendation from the county's administration committee affects the Hudson Area Library and the budgets of the joint library municipalities.

Hudson Patch Live, sponsored by , went live from the meeting room at  just after noon on Friday and, in addition to the library funding subject, we ran down the following news items from the past week:

If you or someone you know is interesting being a guest on a future webisode, drop me a line at foleymo@patch.com.


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Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Time to close the library. We can't afford another tax hike.
Ann Wright August 26, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Perfect name for you - cold. It's so interesting watching posts from the extreme anti-taxers. Do you follow the Ayn Rand doctrine of the poor deserve their lot and taxes shouldn't be used to fund such awful policies like Medicare or Social Security? Yet it's ironic that she lived off both those policies until the end of her days. Do you follow the belief that taxes should only be used for protection and everything else should be privatized? Tell me this. If the Post Office were privatized, how much would you pay for a stamp? I'm betting if UPS took over, it wouldn't be 45 cents. If you had to build your own road, would you and your neighbors be able to afford it? As for the library, how many few cents collectively per person in St. Croix County does it cost to pay for it? I'm betting not that much. The library serves the greater good of families and it's free and open to all. I would say that it is a good price for the money we spend. Would it really help your family all that much to save a few cents on your tax bill?
Micheal Foley August 26, 2012 at 04:07 PM
No need for the personal attacks, Ann.
Paine Reliever August 26, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Jack, you state "We can't afford another tax hike." but tell us this. Has your property tax in Hudson gone up much at all in the last 10 years? I hear this complaint a lot but the truth is that many peoples property tax has stayed flat or gone down.
Ann Wright August 26, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Well, I apologize for the comment but I stand by my other statements. There is a schism going on politically. The conservatives are successful marketers and are aggressively investing in candidates that will enact their legislation at all levels from dog catcher to the presidency. They've been able to finance and convey their narrative well and they have been pretty successful at enacting laws to suppress the votes of people who do not have much representation. The conservative message: government bad, taxes bad, privatization good. All government policies are not all bad, all taxes are not bad and privatization of everything can be harmful to society. There are powerful forces and money on both sides of the political spectrum that are accelerating and consolidating the power and wealth. One political party is accelerating the process more than the other party but the conservatives take it up a notch in their extreme policies concerning women, their policies conerning poverty or lack thereof, their desire to privatize all schools, their policies concerning the disabled or lack thereof. History shows that the pendulum can only swing so far one way or the other. I'm all for a balanced budget and good stewardship over government spent money, I know there is waste. I also know that campaign finance reform would clean up the system. Right now there is so much money that a middle class Joe or Jane has little chance of being elected but our voices need to be heard.
Carbon Bigfuut August 26, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The fact is that the library moved into a building that they couldn't afford. If they were still at the 4th St. location, people might be more understanding of this additional cost.
Ann Wright August 26, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The fact is that the majority of people in St. Croix County voted to indicate that they believe that the additional cost is worth it and are willing to fund it both through taxes and private donations. Again, what is the cost per household to fund the new library?
Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Wrong...the fact is the majority of people said no to the funding through raising taxes. Libraries are money pits. There is little to no need for them. And yes I do believe my taxes should go ti safety. I assume you don't. Let me know how it goes after your house is broken into. There is something seriously wrong when more money goes towards te library than police and roads combined. SHUT IT DOWN
mainstreet August 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
"I hear this complaint a lot but the truth is that many peoples property tax has stayed flat or gone down." Rubbish! This is what the tax and spend crowd wants you to believe. They hope you don't actually look at your tax bill. While my St. Joesph properties are about flat over 10 years, my City of Hudson property is up 11% in only 5 years. Guess I must be an exception right?
Lil Guy August 27, 2012 at 01:06 AM
. Even better the Library could possibly increase your taxes even more since St. Josephs will either have to find the fund from somewhere, lay people off, or bow out of the joint library Seems to me that people on here would prefer layoffs to keep a Library
Celeste Koeberl August 27, 2012 at 01:06 AM
In April 2008, 70% of voters in the four municipalities funding the Hudson Joint Area Library (Hudson, North Hudson, and Towns of Hudson and St. Joseph) approved planning to buy the building that now houses the library; but in November 2008 a majority of voters in each of the four municipalities failed to approve funding the purchase (http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-35745212_ITM). Dean Knudson was mayor of Hudson in 2009/2010 when his administration negotiated purchasing the building now housing city police and the library for $2.5 million, which was at a lower fair market value than in 2008, and then leased a portion of it to the library. Both before and after the library relocation, securing adequate funding for on-going operations was an issue (http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/40153/publisher_ID/9/), and during the city's 2011 budget deliberations Mayor Knudson proposed an increase in funding for the library, but a majority of council members voted "No" (http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/40424/publisher_ID/9/). From February to May 2011, over 56,000 people entered the library, and circulation increased 32% from a year prior (http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/44269/publisher_ID/9/). In 2011, a survey showed over 85% of respondents considered the library important and supported higher taxpayer funding for the library (http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/43712/publisher_ID/9/).
Lil Guy August 27, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Good guy that Mayor Knudson. Too bad you would bad mouth him in a minute in regards to Act 10. Either way, the library is a money pit SHUT IT DOWN
Phil McGraw August 27, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I am in agreement with Jack - it is time to either close the library or make a significant downsize, that is unless an angel donation comes in time. Those who promised significant fundraising failed us, so if you you want someone to blame, I would call them first. The brick and mortar libraries, just as the bookstores will become obsolete.
Carbon Bigfuut August 27, 2012 at 02:46 PM
A majority of people in St. Croix County voted to fund the library in Hudson? Show me the numbers, Ann.
Celeste Koeberl August 27, 2012 at 03:34 PM
FYI: "During the approval process, nobody approached the Hudson Area Library Foundation about raising money for this latest venture. To be sure, the foundation looks forward to raising funds for the library, but only when a complete plan is in place. The idea to move to the new building was a good basic plan, but missing one key component — adequate funding for operations." (Letter: Corrects writer, 6/3/2011, HSO, http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/43237/publisher_ID/9/) “Soltis pointed out that state statutes require counties to pay each library at least 70 percent of the cost of lending books and other items to non-residents. But St. Croix County had increased the reimbursement percentage from 70 percent in 2009 to 85 percent in 2010, to 100 percent currently. The reason for the increase, Soltis said, is that county board members felt that rural towns without a library should pay the full cost of their residents using other municipalities’ libraries. The effect, however, was to increase the city of Hudson’s library funding obligation.” . . . . “At Monday night’s meeting, Burchill said the city would be hard-pressed to increase its library funding under the current state-imposed levy limits for local governments. Hudson was allowed just a $69,000 increase in its total tax levy for 2012, he noted." (Library funding falls short, 3/21/2012, HSO, http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/46708/publisher_ID/9/)
Celeste Koeberl August 27, 2012 at 03:53 PM
“The four municipalities were made exempt from the county library tax when they formed the joint library in 2002. But to be exempt from the tax, they had to certify that they were funding the library to at least the county level. The certification was supposed to have taken place annually, but didn’t. In the interim, the partner municipalities’ library support has fallen behind the county library levy.” (Municipal leaders tackle library funding, 3/30/2012, HSO, http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/46850/publisher_ID/9/) "The Hudson Area Joint Library has been underfunded in recent years by its four member municipalities, who now find themselves in a predicament over how to bring the funding up to the level required by state law." . . . . "For 2012, the city of Hudson budgeted $278,910 for library support, while the level required by state law was $483,644, a shortfall of $204,734. The other municipal partners also had funding shortfalls. For the town of Hudson, the funding gap was $113,971; for the town of St. Joseph, $63,855; and for the village of North Hudson, $33,110." (Library funding falls short, 3/21/2012, HSO, http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/event/article/id/46708/publisher_ID/9/) Whose responsibility was it to ensure that each of the four municipalities complied with state law regarding minimum library funding levels?
Lil Guy August 27, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Roy Sjoberg is the man who signed off saying we were in compliance. So I suggest you direct to him these issues. Meanwhile the City is scrambling to make ends meet. Between the Library, the police, the dog track. Everyone wants money but no one is willing to find ways outside the box. The City of Hudson should not pay more for a Library than for their police or their streets. That is just unheard of!. This is a problem that with cooperation could have been handled but instead they decided to slap this bill along with many others on the back of the City and it's tax payers.
Celeste Koeberl August 27, 2012 at 08:57 PM
According to the reported explanation of the state law regarding library funding, it requires the four municipalities that formed the joint library in 2002 (Hudson, North Hudson, and the Towns of Hudson and St. Joseph) to annually certify that they were funding the library to at least the reimbursement rate level required by St. Croix County, and that was increased by the County Board from from 70% in 2009, to 85% in 2010, and to the current 100%. On what did Roy Sjoberg sign off, and in what role? Was he an elected official of those four municipalities? Was he staff of those four municipalities? Was he the attorney retained to advise those four municipalities regarding their compliance with state laws?
Micheal Foley August 29, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Please folks. Leave the vulgarities out of your comments.
Big Guy August 29, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I'm curious. If the county didn't increase their percent from 70% to 100%, how much would the joint library municipalities need to increase their funding? Second question. How much funding (dollar amount) does the library get from the county to cover non-member library usage? I can't believe there are that many county library users that don't live one of the joint library municipalities.
Celeste Koeberl August 29, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Beginning in 2011, St. Croix County required that in order to be exempt from the County Library tax a municipality must fund its library operations at 100% of library material circulation costs. For 2012, the four municipalities supporting the Hudson Area Library (HAL) would have been required to appropriate a total of $1,044,788. for HAL operational costs, but the total actually appropriated was short by $415,763. To reach the minimum 70% library operational funding rate set by state law, the four municipalities supporting HAL would need to increase their 2012 total appropriation for library operations by $225,190 for 2013, as allocated below: City of Hudson, $116,544; Village of North Hudson, $12,058; Town of Hudson, $59,66; and Town of St. Joseph, $36,927. (See, Memo to St. Croix Co. Board from Office of Corporation Counsel, 7/26/2012) According to Mr. Soltis' charts and comments here, if in 2012 the four municipalities had paid the County Library tax, then the total amount of County Library tax collected from within the four municipalities would have been $569,007, and that amount would have been in addition to the $629,025 total of library operational funding already allocated by the four municipalities for HAL operational costs. However, the Hudson library would have received only about an additional $80,000 from the County Library tax collections.


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