Cloquet appeals to county for library support

The city of Cloquet has come back to the table to ask Carlton County commissioners to consider providing financial support for the Cloquet Public Library.

The city of Cloquet has come back to the table to ask Carlton County commissioners to consider providing financial support for the Cloquet Public Library.

In a letter to the board from Brian Fritsinger, Cloquet city administrator, Fritsinger requested the county consider funding for library services in the amount of $57,000 as part of the county's 2009 budget.

Currently, the Cloquet library has a total operating budget of $542,375, with miscellaneous revenues reducing that amount to $508,875.

In his appeal, Fritsinger pointed out that over the past several years, the city of Cloquet has met with the county on a number of occasions to discuss funding concerns related to the Cloquet Public Library.

Cloquet, along with Moose Lake and Carlton officials, reportedly attended budget meetings with the county last year to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the county's local libraries.


"Currently, approximately 40 percent of the users of our library are non-Cloquet residents," stated Fritsinger in his correspondence.

He went on to point out that since the city has no legal authority to charge user fees or collect other revenues to offset the use by individuals who do not pay taxes within the city of Cloquet, it would be appropriate for the county to help support a share of the library's support.

Fritsinger acknowledged that the county currently supplies funding to the Arrowhead Regional Library System, which goes toward providing benefits to member libraries across its system, rather than just the local library.

Fritsinger also alluded to the fact that the city of Cloquet has faced increased pressure from the public to reinstate the hours and days that were cut out as the result of funding reductions.

"To seek a level of funding from the county that would allow the city to continue to serve both residents and non-residents alike at that level of service," reasoned Fritsinger, "is probably the most realistic."

Fritsinger acknowledged that while the development of a county library system might be in the best interest of all concerned, there has been little interest on the part of the county in pursuing such a plan.

Paul Gassert, Carlton County auditor/treasurer, reminded commissioners they are under no legal obligation to financially support the Cloquet library, and Commissioner Ted Pihlman expressed the hope that all of the county's libraries would receive equal consideration.

Commissioners agreed that the request will be discussed further during the upcoming budget sessions.


In other business to come before the county board, commissioners accepted a lone bid from Gibson Transfer for the operation of the Carlton County Transfer Station. The new contract with the company, which will be good for a period of three years, reflects a price increase from $9,750 a month to $11,250 a month plus a fuel surcharge.

The board agreed to extend its contract with Waste Management for a one-year period to transport the county's mattress container to Goodwill for recycling at a cost of $130 per trip.

Commissioners supported an agreement that will allow the United States Department of Agriculture to conduct wildlife damage management within Carlton County. Gassert explained this basically concerns the trapping of timber wolves and beavers over a one-year period.

Dan Belden of Esko was reappointed to the Governor's Council of Minnesota's Coastal Program Board as an at-large member, and a wet bar permit was approved for Rob's Mahtowa Tavern for a period running from July 31 to Aug. 3.

An existing economic development loan for Service Maintenance and Repair was extended from $51,000 to $76,503 in order for the Cloquet business to install an HVAC and related systems in a building on Avenue C in Cloquet to accommodate the air quality needs of a new tenant.

An economic development loan was also approved for Wrenshall Community Development in the amount of $5,000 to help promote community awareness and help out with infrastructure improvement.

Carlton County Economic Development Director Pat Oman explained to commissioners that although the county recently passed a moratorium on any new economic development loan activities, these two were already in the works at the time the legislation was approved.

Finally, the board approved a plan that will move prosecutorial services for the city of Moose Lake back to the office of the Carlton County attorney's office. Most recently, the city's cases were handled by private attorney Marguerite Doran, who had previously voiced her support for the new plan.

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