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The Willmar City Council Finance Committee on Monday approved funding for more than $11,000 in repairs and upgrades to Willmar Public Library. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Finance Committee recommends $11K in library repairs

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WILLMAR -- The City Council's Finance Committee is recommending the council approve $11,287 for repairs at the Willmar Public Library.

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The repairs were requested by Kandiyohi County. The county pays the library employees and handles janitorial duties. The city provides funding from the "maintenance of effort'' levy to help operate the library.

The requests, approved by the Finance Committee Monday night, would upgrade the fire alarm panel, repair the ventilation fire safety system, seal second-floor windows to stop a water leakage problem, and replace carpet with tile in the back entry.

City Administrator Michael Schmit told the committee that the requests were discussed with him last week by County Administrator Larry Kleindl and Andrew Thorson, county facilities maintenance manager.

The requests included funding for placing two security cameras outside the library and three inside.

However, Schmit recommended against funding the camera request because the city has received a $48,394 federal grant to buy and install security cameras in the downtown area to protect public infrastructure from criminal activity and could possible use some of those cameras.

The repair costs would be paid from the $350,000 fund created by the local option sales tax that voters approved to construct the library in the 1990s.

Schmit said the council has used the fund for technology upgrades and a small amount for books. Approving the latest request would leave a balance in the fund of $233,815.

Schmit said the county made the request because it does not have money for the repairs.

In related business, the committee approved a motion by Chairman Denis Anderson to recommend a working group of city and county officials discuss long-term library ownership and maintenance issues.

During an interview, Schmit said the library ownership issue surfaces annually "every time somebody has to spend money'' for the library.

"We have had a really good working relationship with the county over the years, but I think it's just something that kind of got lost over the years,'' he said.

In other business, the committee received a report from Police Chief Jim Kulset on the effect of cuts on his 2010 budget. Kulset's report was the first the committee has requested from department heads before the committee recommends a final 2010 budget to the council later this year.

The mayor's 2010 budget recommends $3,984,555 for police protection, down from $4,000,351 in 2009. Among other statistics, Kulset said over 82 percent of the budget pays for salaries, overtime, salaries for temporary employees, and pension and insurance contributions.

"Really, when you start looking at making changes short of reducing your work force, it's difficult to do a lot of cutting there,'' he said. No cost-of-living increases are proposed.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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