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Pennington County and Library Partnerships

Carnegie Foundation Library was open to city residents.  Because travel was often slow and cumbersome, being open only to city residents worked well.  With more travel opportunities, the number of people in the area on a regular basis increased. 

Below is a timeline of events in the formation of county library services.  The timeline is compiled from Rapid City Journal news articles.

1998

January – 5th grader writes to RCJ about $50 charge as opposed to $5 student card charge for a library card because her family lives outside of city limits. 

January 31st – Library Director Kathy Fredette and Library Board Chairman Dr. Kathryn Johnson address the need for non-resident fees and invite people to put their feedback in a forum so they can gather a consensus

March 31st and April 2nd – Dates for public forums.

March 31st – At forum RCJ gathered responses from citizens.  Citizens’ comments included unhappiness because the Rapid City Library is a city library and there is a fee to use it.

May 5th – Another forum was to be held to obtain public feedback.

May 6th – Library tax-levy proposed.  Collaboration between Pennington County and Rapid City to fund the library and increase access for county citizens outside city limits.  In 1997 County Commission requested information showing this cooperation would be a worthwhile investment.  Proposed tax-levy was 28 cents per $1,000 per assessed valuation ($28 per $100,000).

May 13th – Pennington County Commissioners propose a vote for a library tax, but make no move to officially add it yet.

June 23rd – Pennington County Commission met and library requested $287,000 ($10.34/county residents outside of city limits) to provide services to those outside city limits.

July 2nd – County Commission says there are options:  1. Commission could put matter on the ballot.  2.  Voters could petition for a ballot.  3.  Legislation could be passed to make regional libraries move beyond county lines.

August 7th – American Association of University Women collected petition signatures to get the Library funding issue on the 1998 November ballot.  The group needed 443 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

September 4th – American Association of University Women turned in their petition to get the library funding vote on the November ballot.

October 19th – Rapid City Journal publishes frequently asked questions and answers from Committee for equal Library Access*:

  • Who votes?  Voters living outside towns with libraries:  Rapid City, Box Elder, New Underwood, Wall, Hill City, and Keystone.
  • What if the measure passes?  County commissioners will have until January 2000 to provide library services; options will include contracting with an established library, joining with other governmental units to share library services or creating a county library.
  • What would it cost?  $10.34 per person a year based on population outside the six municipalities and a library budget item of $250,000 to $300,000; or, if based on property taxes $5.64 for a residence assessed at $50,000 or $9.02 for an $80,000 property.
  • What if it fails?  The county is off the hook, and Rapid City Public Library trustees could consider keeping the $50 nonresident user fee, increasing the fee or limiting nonresident access to the city’s library.

*Information from October 19th, 1998 article in the Rapid City Journal.

October 21st – Rapid City Area Schools and Rapid City Public Library discuss collaboration creating a branch library system without needing to build additional libraries.

October 22nd – Rapid City Public Library and Rapid City Area Schools consider a partnership similar to those between Box Elder and the Douglas School District and the Sturgis Public Library and Meade School District.

October 27th – Rapid City Public Library and Rapid City Area Schools approve sharing of new Stevens High School library, details to be decided by the committee.

November 4th – Rural Pennington County voters agreed that county should provide them with public library services.

November 11th – Pennington County Commission meets to consider how to fund library access to all county residents.

November 16th – Pennington County Commission announce they will hold Dec. 3 forum to hear ideas on how to achieve rural library.

December 4th – County forum leads to question of the level of service and cost associated with it for the current community libraries.

December 31st – Rapid City Public Library and Rapid City Board of Education are still looking at joint Partner Library on the West Side to be open by fall of 2000.

1999

January 5th – Rapid City Council votes to support partner library with Stevens High School, but needs to see how 2012 Vision Fund hearings pan out before committing.

January 16th – Pennington County representatives will meet to outline what communities need to improve library services and gather more information about costs.

February 2nd – Vision 2012 hearings delayed until June 8th due to vacancy.

February 11th – Rapid City School Board says City of Rapid City will need to commit to the project by February 25th in order to stay involved in the project.

February 24th – Rapid City Area Schools okay library for Stevens High School without city participation.

June 8th – Pennington County Commissioners to consider tax assessment to fund four libraries – Rapid City, Hill City, Wall, and Keystone.  Cost would be $39 per $100,00 of assessed valuation for county taxpayers.  This tax would not be levied on people living within city limits and already paying for library services.

June 10th – Pennington County Commissioners offered area libraries a total of $75,000 opposed to the $300,000+ initially requested.  Rapid City Public Library declined the offer and the entire amount was offered to Wall, Hill City, and Keystone to share.  The offer was declined because services need to be offered at costs equal to what those inside city limits are already paying.

July 7th – County Commissioners refuse to increase the $75,000 allotment for county library services, but libraries continue to decline the offer.  Suggestions of a pay-as-you-go county enrollment was suggested, but not used.  Instead libraries polled out of county patrons to compile more information for the County Commissioners meeting to be held on September 7th.

September 6th – Rapid City Public Library Director, Greta Chapman, will propose a new two-year plan to the County Commissioners at their next meeting.  The first year would be a $125,000 contribution from the county and the second year would be $166,650 (the original $291,650 requested).  These funds would help fund all four county libraries.

September 14th – County Commissioners offer a final budget of $90,000 to county libraries for collaborative funding.  They said this will be their final offer and the libraries can take it or leave it.  If the libraries accept the offer they will be required to submit quarterly usage reports to the Commission for those living outside city limits.

September 20th – Equal Library Access organization supports County Commission in meeting libraries’ requests.

September 27th – County Commission expected to approve $104,213 collaboration trial for one year to gain statistics about usage and funding.  Commissioners are concerned about future funding if usage is higher than they predict.  The new tax-levy would be contingent on the state tax cap for the year 2000.

September 29th – Pennington County Commission approved a $104,213 special library fund, but funding will go to the 2000 general election.  Pennington county residents living outside city limits will be the ones to vote as they would see the $13 per $100,000 assessed valuation used for the funding.

October 27th – The library board and Pennington County Commission have a verbal agreement for the $104,213 paid by the county in 2000, but questions still remain.  The library board asks the county to either lift the tax cap or agree to provide future funding and request the commission respect the library patron’s privacy with their usage requests.

November 3rd – Committee for Equal Library Access will file a lawsuit against the Pennington County Commission for failing to meet the voter mandate with one year.  The Commission opted to table discussion at their last meeting instead of going further.  Clarification in a later article says the negotiations with Rapid City Public Library were being tabled, but that the general plan was still being considered with other libraries.

December 8th – Pennington County Commission and library board agree to rural resident usage at Rapid City, Hill City, Wall, and Keystone libraries.  Funding will come from a property tax on residents outside of the four cities as well as those living outside Box Elder and New Underwood.  Services will begin January 1st, 2000 for rural residents.

2000

January 3rd – With the new county regulations in place, libraries saw a spike in usage and card sign-up within the first day of the collaboration.

January 12th – Area libraries continued to see more usage after Pennington County collaborates with libraries so county patrons no longer pay membership fees. 

June 10th – Pennington County Commissioners and library board discuss increase for 2001.  Libraries request $71,000 per the phased-in three year agreement and commission agrees to $5,476 increase in 2001.  The County Commission does not wish to use general funds or opting out of the tax cap to procure library funds.

July 9th – Pennington County officials voted to approve a county library fee in order to increase the amount given to county libraries.  The one-year trial does end December 31, 2000 and terms for 2001 are still being discussed.

August 3rd – Residents living inside Rapid City, Box Elder, Wall, Hill City, Keystone, and New Underwood will be excluded from the 2000 general election in regards to county library funding. 

September 4th – Pennington County Commissioners set aside $111,800 in the budget for county libraries.  The libraries request $175,000 and a three-year plan leading to a $400,000 per year contribution so that county residents’ costs match those seen by folks living within city limits.

October 16th – Voting on whether or not Pennington county residents want to continue receiving library services will be on the November 7th ballot.  Those living in the county but outside the city limits will be charged the tax to continue the funding.

November 9th – Voters approved county funding of library services.  The County Commissioners insist $111,800 in the budget is the most they can contribute to cover library services.

February 21st – After final agreement amongst the county libraries and the commission, a payment percentage is set.  The percentage paid to each city will be based on the population served by that city’s library.

2005

In December 2005 a one-year extension of the Pennington County Library Contract was approved by the Pennington County Commission and county libraries in order to continue serving constituents living outside city limits. 

2006

October – Negotiations between the county and libraries were at a standstill because of the budget.  County library usage tripled, but the amount given to libraries continued to increase at the 8% increase which leaves libraries at a deficit. 

December 4th – The Pennington County Commission made an offer to Rapid City Public Library to provide $351,000 in 2007.  Contracts with Wall, Keystone, and Hill City were made individually on October 31st giving them $45,638 for county residents for 2007.

December 6th – An agreement between Pennington County Commission and Rapid City Public Library was met for 2007.  The county will make quarterly payments totaling $335,000 to the Rapid City Public Library and the library will provide quarterly statistics including the number of card holders as well as information about material circulation.  The contract includes a termination clause as well as a call to form a joint committee for next year.

2007

September 29th – Rapid City Public Library notified Pennington County Commission that it will cancel the contract to provide library services to residents outside of city limits.  At this time finding a consensus so county residents do not need to pay for library services is still possible.

December 17th – Pennington County Commission and Rapid City Public Library sign an agreement for 2008 and subsequent years.  The amount is pre-determined for 2008 – 2010 and will be paid quarterly.  The county cost will be 14.5% of library operating costs for years after that. 

2008

June 18th – County, City, and Rapid City School District continue to discuss additional library services for county residents, but the state Board of Education denied the request to expand Western Dakota Technical Institute.

2009

September 30th – Western Dakota Technical Institute, the City of Rapid City, and Pennington County proposed a joint library at WDTI.  The proposal was approved by the state Board of Education and funding has already been discussed.

2015

April 30th - County Commissioners discuss the library reserve that will be depleted in 2017.  County Commissioners scheduled town hall meetings in Rapid City, Hill City, and Wall to gather input from constituents.  The 2015 county budget allots over $490,000 to library services within Pennington County. 

May 8th - Partnership with Western Dakota Technical Institute and Rapid City Public Libraries ended and the joint library at WDT is no longer open to the public.

June 28th - Pennington County Commissioners must decide how to approach library funding.  The existing contract will expire and currently library costs are exceeding the budgeted amount.  The Commission will need to decide if using the general fund or proposing another opt-out are viable options.

July 7th - Pennington County Commissioners vote to make full payments to Wall, Keystone, and Hill City libraries.  Rapid City Public Libraries will receive $83,000 of the nearly $110,000 payment expected for the third quarter.  The Commission will pay the balance due with the fourth quarter payment after property taxes are paid.  This is a short-term solution for a bigger problem.  There could be discussions of a second opt-out to help close the gap between library funds available and county library expenses.

December 1st - Rapid City Public Library grand opening for the Historical Collections Room at Main branch.

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