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 Chair Dr. Kathryn Johnson address the need for non-resident fees and invite people to give their feedback in a forum so they can gather a consensus. Public forums were held on March 31st and April 2nd.
March 31st – At the forum, the 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, the 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.
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 approve 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 $100,000 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, and 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.