Staff File Photo Kellogg-Hubbard Library's director says patrons will have to pay for library cards if their towns don't approve increased funding.
MONTPELIER — Kellogg-Hubbard Library will make area patrons pay for library cards if their communities don’t increase funding, according to the head of the library.
Kellogg-Hubbard Library could open for some hours on Sundays if town and city funding requests are met, but Library Director Richard Bidnick said residents of dissenting municipalities would have to pay $40 for library cards that have been free.
Bidnick said he is trying to make the funding from each municipality equitable as Kellogg-Hubbard seeks more money in town and city budgets that support the library.
Berlin would have the most drastic change under the proposal, more than doubling its one-year contribution from $12,557 to $26,925. Montpelier would have a 5 percent, or $14,698, increase to $308,673.
Berlin’s current contribution comes out to about $4 per town resident for library services — a rate significantly lower than other municipalities that support the library.
The library, however, calculated funding requests based on the number of registered library users for each municipality. A theoretical $25 per person was used in the calculation.
“The library really had to come up with something that was more fair and equitable for all the surrounding towns,” Bidnick said Thursday.
The library plans to gather the petitions necessary to put the question on the city’s March ballot as well as other towns’ ballots.
On Thursday, Kellogg-Hubbard planned to post petitions in the library for each municipality that needs signatures in order to get the funding increase requests on the ballot. Petitions are not required for East Montpelier and Calais.
While some areas just need a couple of hundred signatures or fewer, Montpelier will need 600, and Bidnick asked the City Council on Wednesday to waive the requirement. Council members refused, saying while they are supportive of the library, granting the exemption would set a precedent for other nonprofits.
As one way to address funding issues, Bidnick, who started the job this summer, said he hopes to have self-checkout available to patrons.
Bidnick noted Montpelier’s funding for the library’s operations has remained the same for several years while other spending for the city has increased.
Montpelier also is paying nearly $44,000 this upcoming year for a bond for the library.
Bidnick said he plans to be at Berlin on Town Meeting Day to advocate for the plan.
The smallest proposed funding increase is $786 in Worcester, for a proposed $17,525 contribution.
Calais would increase by $3,461 to $27,950. East Montpelier would go up $4,479 to $36,775. Middlesex would increase by $1,257 to $26,800.
Residents of towns that don’t fund the library already pay for library cards.
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