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Library delays discussion of renegotiation of management agreement

Posted at 8:40 AM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 11:56:48-05

GREAT FALLS — At the Great Falls Public Library board of trustees meeting on Tuesday night, the topic of entering a discussion with the city regarding renegotiation of the library management agreement was breached.

“There is a city agreement in place since 1993 between the city of Great Falls and the Great Falls Public Library,” explained Great Falls Public Library Board Chair Whitney Olson, “And it provides funding with seven mills to the library.”

It has been suggested to renegotiate the terms of the agreement now that the new Library Mill Levy passed. While some believe the city could use the funds for other things like public safety, the library says that the mill levy amount was calculated with the seven mills in mind.

“And so they were very clear that it replaced the $350,000 of the general fund supplement, but it was in addition to the seven mills,” Olson said, “And so we in good faith went to the voters with those numbers, expecting the budget to take us from the seven mills by agreement up to what we now have is 24 mills.”

A few people were in favor of the idea, but most of the people at the board meeting were against the renegotiation, saying things like they are willing to fight “tooth and nail” to protect the library.

“We want the public to be able to be involved. We want them to hear what both parties have to say,” Olson said, “We want them to weigh in on what services that they'd like from their public library. I think we feel as the public library board that we have a moral obligation to uphold what the voters told us in 2023, and that was that they want better services for Great Falls.”

Ultimately, the board decided to form a committee for the item to research their options and report back at the March meeting, specifically not agreeing or disagreeing to a discussion.

“We have some time to think about this and decide exactly what's right for the library, what's right for the voters,” Olson said.

The motion carried, as did an additional motion to seek outside legal counsel for the library for up to $10,000.

You can reach out to the Great Falls Public Library for more information at (406) 453 0349.