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Enterprise council balking on library district

The city library committee proposed allowing the district free rent in addition to a donation of $7,500 to put toward the cost of heat and lights.
Kathleen Ellyn

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on December 13, 2017 8:56AM

Just how a library district would impact operations at Enterprise City Library is still a question for city council members. The discussion created some heat on a cold winter night when the council met Monday.

The Enterprise library committee, composed of Librarian Denine Rautenstrauch, Micah Agnew and Mayor Stacy Karvoski, presented thoughts on the matter Dec. 11 and the discussion that followed revealed some strong resistance to the district.

Mayor Karvoski said the library committee was attempting to “get all our ducks in a row” with regard to what the city was willing to provide if the district proposal were approved.

“What we’re looking for is for the city to vote on some type of proposal like this so ... Enterprise will already have a handle on what our proposal is for our building,” Karvoski said.

The city intends to maintain control and ownership of the building.

The city library committee proposed allowing the district free rent in addition to a donation of $7,500 to put toward the cost of heat and lights.

The idea of allowing free rent was a way to show “where we put our money is what we value,” said council member Agnew. “If the district passes, we go down to paying less than 10 percent of our current $130,000 expenditure.”

Councilors Larry Christman and Chris Pritchard are opposed to the idea. The other tenant of the building, North East Oregon Economic Development District pays rent, and Pritchard believes it makes sense for the district to pay rent as well. It made no sense for the city to provide money for utilities and maintain the building when citizens are already paying out of their pocket for a district, Pritchard said.

Christman agreed.

“I don’t think the city needs to chip in anything on that,” said Christman. “We don’t even have to let the district have the building. I think they need to be aware of what it costs to have it, and that needs to be part of their plan and if they don’t have enough money, that’s their problem and it’s not the city’s problem.”

Rautenstrauch pointed out that the whole point of the library district is to improve services and any small savings (such as rent) would mean more money to spend to increase hours, programing and outreach.

Council members seemed unclear on what they would lose if the county library closed, believing that programing would remain the same for Enterprise even after the county library closed. Hours would remain the same, they said.

“Until they (the Wallowa Valley Library Foundation) give us a list of the things they’re going to provide that we’re not providing now, I’m dragging my feet,” said Christman.

Rautenstrauch replied with a partial list of the “more” without discussing what would be lost when the county library closed and took the grant writer and program director out of the equation.

Mayor Karvoski said that Enterprise was in a unique position in that they already provided good library hours.

“The citizens, if this passes, will be paying extra money for hardly any other services,” she said.

Rautenstrauch pointed out that the open hours would be significantly extended under the district plan. She did not mention the many programs that would disappear when the county library closed.

Christman was also under the impression that, if the library district were approved, the city could lose all control of its building.

“The city could line out whatever they want (in a proposal) and the new (library district board) could tell the city where to do with it. They don’t have to listen to us,” Christman said.

Karvoski pointed out that making sure the city had a voice in how the library was used was the purpose of having a formal proposal “lined out” in advance.

The council decided to have the Library committee come up with several proposals and present them at the next meeting.


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