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County Board debates funding requests from library system, McLeod County Historical Society

The McLeod County Board debated requested increases in funding to the Pioneerland Library System and the McLeod County Historical Society at a Tuesday morning workshop.
The library system is asking for a 2 percent increase in funding. Commissioner Ron Shimanski, who sits on the Pioneerland Board of Directors, said that Pioneerland was hit with a hefty health insurance premium increase, and that was part of what is driving the requested increase.
According to County Auditor-Treasurer Cindy Schultz, the county is required by statute to fund a minimum of $166,441 of Pioneerland’s cost. Pioneerland is requesting $198,101. The minimum contribution is determined by population, she said.
Shimanski noted that the contribution helps fund the libraries in Glencoe, Hutchinson, Brownton and Winsted. Shimanski added that any time the library has to cut expenses, it usually means fewer service hours at the local libraries.
Commissioner Doug Krueger asked how the request got to be $32,000 above the minimum required by the state.
“I have the old curmudgeon view — the more you feed it, the more it eats,” said Krueger. He said the county has “some mandatory things we need money for,” which makes it difficult to meet requests from other agencies.
Krueger also said that he does not feel the county should be responsible for covering another agency’s increase in health insurance premiums.
“Almost the first thing that comes up when someone asks for more money is health insurance,” said Krueger. “We can’t make up these differences, we just can’t. Nobody’s making up mine. Just on the face of it, that’s not enough to require an increase.”
Shimanski said that along with the health insurance costs, the library system has made significant investments in fiber-optics, laptop computers and iPads.
“Libraries have really extended community support service to a great degree,” said Shimanski. He added that providing internet service and technology to those who cannot afford them has been of great benefit to the communities.

For more, see the Sept. 7 print edition of The Chronicle.