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Council votes to terminate Bookmobile, Enoch Library funding
By Kristen Daniel
CEDAR CITY – The City Council unanimously voted not to support the Iron County Bookmobile and subsequently the State Bookmobile Repository, essentially the Enoch City library, the State-supported home-base of the Bookmobile, at its action meeting on Jan. 23, after the Iron County Commissioners asked the Cities to vote on whether or not the Bookmobile should be funded.
The Council voted reluctantly and with an air protest on the measure which will dictate how the County Library Tax will be spent in the future. County Commissioners have said the future of the Bookmobile and the Enoch Library will rest on the votes of the City Councils as well as one vote cast by the Commissioners.
The vote also affects the Library in Enoch, which is in reality the Bookmobile Repository supported by the State and everything in the Enoch Library building is owned by the Utah State Library. Enoch provides the building free of charge and contributes $53,000, $41,000 out of their general fund and $12,000 form their portion of the Library Tax, to the county for the library and bookmobile. Upon the cancellation of the Bookmobile, the Utah State Library will remove everything out of the Enoch Library Building.
The County contributes $77,000 to the Bookmobile/Enoch Library, money that comes from the county library tax. The other $53,000 comes from state and federal support – that amount does not include the value of the books, access to state book collections, inter-library loan, the computers, internet service, administrative and technical support costs or other equipment in the building.
Cedar City has been receiving $30,000 less per year of the Library Tax levied by the county than it is due, according to Utah State Law which requires the tax must be distributed according to the assessed value of each incorporated area.
Regardless of how the Cedar City Council would have voted, Cedar City would still receive their $30,000 of the Library Tax they deserve according to the statute, Mayor Joe Burgess said.
Councilman John Black said he did not think the cities should make this decision for the County, and he hopes the commissioners “would make the decision on their own volition.”
Councilman Nina Barnes said the decision should really be one for the County Commissioners and not the responsibility of the city.
“It seems to me we should be getting more guidance from the county…” she said. “Instead of the cities driving the county’s function- that’s difficult or me.”
Councilman Don Marchant agreed but said they had to vote because of the money that comes from Cedar City tax payers.
“Like it or not we are the driving function apparently,” he said. “We are one entity that certainly has a facility that, with all do respect to the availability of the Bookmobile … we have a pretty good library and we certainly have means for getting to the library, I assume, within the city limits.”
Pat Tomkins, Director of the Iron County Bookmobile and Bookmobile driver, addressed Marchant’s comment.
“My concern is that I serve people who can’t get to the library like the people at Turning Point … or the Senior Centers or those with no transportation... those who have no resources,” she said. “I go into schools and teachers bring the kids out who may never ever walk into a public library - I bring the library to them. A building can’t do that for the same people. I go to people who don’t necessarily have smart phones, they don’t have I-pads, they don’t have Kindles, they don’t have internet access. We think that all the people we know have these resources, but they don’t. This is what the bookmobile does, it gives resources to those who don’t have them.”
To Tomkins remarks about not having smart phones and I-pads, Don Marchant quipped, “They’re are lucky,” he said. “They’re if they don’t have those things.”
Tomkins responded, “They might think differently.”
Tomkins said she is concerned that Iron County, Enoch City and surrounding areas are losing the huge asset of the services of the Utah State Library. The Bookmobile and the standing Enoch Library are one entity, a two-for-one, the costs discussed support both services not just the Bookmobile.
Enoch Town Manager, Rob Dotson, said that Enoch will work to rebuild their library, but it will be nothing like it is now if the Bookmobile is ended as the Bookmobile and the Enoch Library are really one and the same. The huge collection of books held between the Enoch Library and the Bookmobile and the access to the Utah State Inter-library loan that offers all county residents access to all books in the Utah Library system is a value that is almost impossible to assess or replace, Dotson said.
THE CITY’S CHOICES
The County Commissioners offered the Cities two proposals. Proposal one terminates the Bookmobile and the Enoch Library, Proposal Two maintained it. Either proposal would give Cedar City their additional $30,000 per year.
Mayor Burgess said “Either one of those options we will be getting the money that is by state statute due the city from City residents.”
Proposal one takes the roughly $251,000 collected in Library tax, plus a $41,000 contribution from Enoch City and pays $158,000 to the incorporated cities, less the cost of library cards for Enterprise, western Iron County residents, to the Washington County Library. This proposal also pays $32,000 for the final three months of the bookmobile to close down the services, and gives an additional $17,500 to Parowan for two years, and $41,200 to Enoch for two years so it can establish a library. Cedar City would receive its full, legal tax allocation after the two years, according to Mayor Burgess. There has been no statement as to what will happen to the $90,000 of Library Tax collected form unincorporated areas after the two years as Enoch is currently the acting County Library and there will be no county library in place after the Repository and the Bookmobile is ended.
Proposal two takes the $292,000 collected and still pays $158,000 to the cities, but then pays $127,000 to continue on with the bookmobile contract with the State of Utah, thus also maintaining the Enoch Library at its current level.
The council voted unanimously for proposal one.
Councilman Paul Cozzens said he thought that Enoch residents could plan their trips into Cedar City along with buying groceries and use the Cedar City Library. He added that it may be possible for the city could add to the city library collections to accommodate the larger need.
“People can change their planning to use our public library, and I would commit as a council to beef up our [library collections] and fill in the gaps to help that situation,” Cozzens said.
Mayor Burgess said it is his understanding that all City Councils are voting for proposal one.
Tomkins invited the council members to come with her on the bookmobile and see what it does and talk to the people. She said she has extended similar invitations to all mayors and asked the mayors to extend the invitation to the city councils. None have taken her up on her offer.
Tomkins said to the Cedar City Council, “If you came on my truck and talked to these people I think you would get a much different idea.”
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