County wants public view on funding libraries

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
   From libraries to law enforcement, funding is critical and everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie.
   Department heads are finding themselves having to become creative with budgets and the funding they do receive.  
   Funding levies that were once as automatic as the sun coming up are now turned away by the public. You only have to witness the law and fire levies in Great Falls that overwhelmingly failed at the ballot box recently.
   Readers will recall that the county levies funds for the Library Fund which is distributed to the libraries in Conrad and Valier.
   Conrad receives 57 percent and Valier receives 43 percent. There is also a voted levy which goes to the two libraries at the same rate and money received, pro-rated, through the State Entitlement funding, oil and gas revenue and interest on the daily cash balance in the fund.
   County Attorney Mary Ann Ries has been looking into the history of this funding split and will present a brief report of her findings.
   A recent story in the I-O has drawn some attention to the funding dilemma between the two libraries and the commissioners have decided to hold a public meeting on Aug. 26, 7 p.m. in the courtroom at the courthouse so the public can voice an opinion and ask questions.
   Of area libraries, Conrad has one of the lowest book budgets around at $9,010 while the Valier book budget is $12,000 and Cut Bank tops the list of neighboring libraries with a book budget of $27,500.