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Ronan library seeks creation of special tax district

RONAN — Thanks to donations and frugal spending, an anticipated budget gap of more than $21,000 for the Ronan Public Library is now only $6,500.

To prevent reoccurring shortfalls, the library continues to work toward the creation of a special taxing district. For the past few years, Ronan’s library has operated knowing it will have a shortfall, library director Michelle Fenger explained. So far, community donors have made up the difference, she said, adding she’s hopeful the community will continue to do so or that the city will foot the bill until next year’s funding comes in July.

Funding from the city for the library has been slashed the past several years to $16,914 this fiscal year from $50,759 in 2007, Fenger said. The library also receives more than $11,000 from Lake County and some from the state, putting the total budget at about $50,000, she added.

“We’ve done everything possible to fit within that amount of money,” Fenger said.

The library provides technology, books, a reading program and other services to the community. According to Fenger, an average of 1,800 items circulate and more than 500 people come through the library’s doors each month.

“It’s also a safe place for the children of our community to be,” she said, and children often spend after-school time in the library.

A library district would create a stable source of funding that would allow for improved services, Fenger said. The city has already agreed to forgive more than $3,500 in past debt and to give the library the building in which it sits if a district’s creation is successful. So far, the reaction to placing the issue on a ballot has been favorable, Fenger said, adding that she’s willing to talk with or present information to different community groups and organizations that would like to learn more. Once on the ballot, voters within the Ronan School District, the boundaries of which will be the same as the library district, will decide whether to support its creation.

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