The Saratoga Sun -

Riverside hears library funding


Riverside Town Council met at town hall Thursday to deal with town business and to hear from Jacob Mickelsen director of the Carbon County Library System (CCLS) about funding for the Encampment/Riverside branch library.

Mickelsen appeared before the council to inform members that the library system had established a system that would allow donors to make contributions to individual branch libraries with all money earmarked for a particular branch to be used there only.

The council also made a determination to not fill a seat that became available after council member Margaret Weber had to resign her seat after moving out of town limits.

Mickelsen told the council members that should the town decide to make donations, the system now had the ability to earmark money for specific branches, and any money the town donated would be used only at the Encampment/Riverside branch of the library.

Earlier in the summer the CCLS was faced with severe budget cuts that threatened some branch libraries with closure. In order to prevent that, Riverside and Encampment pledged money to the library system under the proviso that the money only be used for operations at the Encampment/Riverside branch.

At the time, however, it was not clear that the library system had a mechanism in place to allow donations to be used only for one facility. Instead, all money received went into the library system as a whole, and it would be spent whereever needed.

Mickelsen, who took over as Director of CCLS in July after a staff shakeup at the CCLS, told members of the Riverside council that the CCLS now had the ability to earmark funds for specific branches, and that he was visiting local town councils to inform them of this in case they wanted to donate funds to assist in operations for library branches.

The Encampment and Riverside branch library is open 19 hours per week currently, Mickelsen said.

Mickelsen said that the CCLS had found plenty of money in grants for materials for the library. Grant money is out there that allows the library to buy books and other media, pay for internet services and other operational expenses, he said.

But the most acute need, and one that is not covered by grants, is payroll for staff. It costs $950 per year to add one hour of service per week at the branch library. Towns or other entities could donate funds that would be used to cover payroll allowing the library to stay open longer.

“Everybody is very keen on their library,” Mickelsen said. “It doesn’t particularly affect residents of this town how long Baggs is open or how many movies Hanna gets.”

Mickelsen said that money earmarked for a branch would be guaranteed to be used only at that branch. In Baggs, a Friends of the Library group raised enough money to extend the hours of operation at that town’s library.

After Mickelsen’s presentation to the council, the council moved onto routine business before making a decision regarding a seat on the council that recently became empty after council member Weber sold her business and could no longer claim residence in the town.

The board could appoint someone to fill Weber’s seat, Mayor Leroy Stephenson said, and that person would serve on the council until after one of the candidates on the ballot won the seat in the election and was sworn in January, 2017.

Stephenson said he was reluctant to appoint someone for such a short period, and council members Liz Swynarczuk and Fred Lorenz agreed.

There are only three meetings for the rest of the year, Stephenson said, and existing council members did not foresee there being any reason why they could not attend and have a quorum.

The council decided to leave the seat open rather than appoint someone, with Stephenson adding that the council could decide to make an interim appointment if someone from the town expressed interest in the position.

The next regular meeting of the Riverside Town Council will be 6 p.m., Monday Oct. 10 at the Town of Riverside building.


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