Friday, May 24, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
February 19, 2013
FALLS CITY -- The effort to keep Wagner Community Library's doors open could branch out beyond the city of Falls City.
Holly Kraus, Wagner's librarian, on Thursday briefly presented to the Falls City City Council the concept of implementing a library district to encompass all public libraries in Polk County, except West Salem.
Kraus said discussions are preliminary, but so far Dallas and Independence have expressed interest in the idea. Monmouth has yet to make a decision on exploring the concept, she said. Typically, a district comprises a headquarters and individual branches.
"It's very beneficial, overall, to have a district," Kraus said. "It helps run things (better) when you have a headquarters. There is more sharing of materials and you can have better training for your staff."
Kraus said Falls City and Dallas previously considered forming a district on their own, but including more libraries would bring in more support.
Kraus said it takes about two years to implement a district, starting with approval from each city council to examine the possibility.
Kraus didn't ask for a vote Thursday, but wanted to let the council know about the discussions and possibility of an approval request in the future.
She said a planning committee would form and apply for a grant for an economic feasibility study, evaluation of assessed value of properties in the proposed district, and assess the possible tax revenue. The grant would also pay for a consultant to advise the committee during the process.
In other business, the council approved continuing to explore the methodology for implementing a transportation utility fee (TUF) -- a monthly fee collected from residents exclusively for street maintenance -- as part of its transportation system plan. The city has not considered adopting the fee, but approving the methodology keeps it in consideration for the future.
"We're not talking about adopting anything," said Todd Chase of FCS Group, a consulting firm preparing fee methodology for the city. "We are really just looking for direction as to whether we should continue to explore this, modify it, and bring it back in the future and have some more public dialogue."
However, Chase did indicate the fee may be the only viable option to increase the amount of funding the city receives for maintenance of city streets, at least in the near future.
"While we are working on this project, this transportation plan, this is the one fee that seems to be the best suited for a small city like Falls City," Chase said.