MONTPELIER — Kellogg-Hubbard’s director says that if the library does not get the funding it is requesting from six municipalities on Town Meeting Day, patrons from those communities could be asked to pay up to $40 for their library cards.
Library Director Richard Bidnick has said that without the towns’ appropriations, cards could no longer be free.
But library board member Rachel Muse cautioned on Wednesday that no decisions have been made.
Bidnick maintains the approach is based on equity: If one town adjusts its amount, it would affect the amount other towns contribute.
The issue came to light recently when one town spotted what it felt was a flaw in the formula used to calculate what each town should contribute to the library.
Worcester Select Board officials have taken issue with Bidnick’s approach. One board member said the town would rather not provide any funding given the provision.
On Tuesday, library officials acknowledged that a new formula for funding requests based on the number of registered cardholders could have or actually did incorporate errors, but said future years could fix the problem with the upgraded electronic record-keeping system.
“The funding formula is flawed. And it’s flawed by admission,” Worcester’s town clerk and treasurer, Sandra Ferver, said Wednesday. “We want to support that library. All we want is transparency.”
The library is seeking a 9.6 percent, or $39,049, increase in combined municipal funding requests that voters will decide on Tuesday. Each community will vote on its part of that total.
Aside from Montpelier, the formula for the five surrounding member towns used a $25 base rate for each registered cardholder. Those figures could or did include people who died, according to library officials. The number of those cases included in the equation, however, might be limited, one staffer suggested.
East Montpelier’s town administrator and zoning administrator, Bruce Johnson, said the formula may be discussed at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the East Montpelier Elementary School during a pre-town meeting.
“We have our town forum this Saturday, and my guess is that will be a lively topic,” Johnson said.
Worcester previously had reached out to the library to see whether Kellogg-Hubbard’s list was accurate and up to date, but the library says state laws prohibit it from disclosing names.
Library board member Larraby Fellows wrote in an email to The Times Argus that the Worcester Select Board didn’t raise any concerns after she and Bidnick gave a presentation to them in December. If concerns were raised, the library could have worked to mitigate them at the time, Fellows wrote.
Library board Chairwoman Karen Andresen was unavailable for comment despite multiple requests Wednesday.
According to one section of Vermont law, a library’s patron registration records can be disclosed if there’s written permission by the patron; to parents of patrons under age 16; to custodians or guardians involving the student’s school library; in response to a judicial order; and to officers, employees, volunteers or agents of the library for administrative purposes.
State Librarian Marty Reid said Title 22’s library patron records section in state law protects identifiable information that relates to library activities, including details like phone numbers.
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