Faribault County backs platform of libraries

BLUE EARTH — Faribault County commissioners showed support Tuesday for Minnesota libraries.

Heidi Schutt, library director at the Muir Library in Winnebago, and Eva Gaydon, library director at the Blue Earth Community Library, spoke to the board. They requested that commissioners officially support the 2018 legislative platform of the Minnesota Library Association and Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota. The platform covers a combination of public, special and school libraries, and has been agreed upon by all the regional public library systems in the state.

THE MLA/ITEM legislative platform for 2018 shows support of state funding for programs that sustain and expand library services. Specifically, MLA/ITEM supports increased annual funding from $13.57 million to $16.57 million with a corresponding formula change; increased funding from $1.3 million to $2 million annually to support communication, resource-sharing and collaborative programming with all types of libraries in Minnesota; an appropriation of $10 million over the 2017-18 biennium to build and remodel public library buildings; and funding a grant pool for school districts to increase access to library media specialists.

The platform also shows support for the continued funding for services such as Minitex, the Electronic Library for Minnesota, the Minnesota Digital Library and MNLINK, the statewide loan and delivery system; funding for EBooks Minnesota; funding for after-school and community programs; annual funding for broadband for public libraries; increased annual funding for K-12 Broadband Equity Aid; and an increase in Local Government Aid and County Program Aid.

The platform also supports a revised funding formula for Minnesota regional library systems. Schutt said the funding formula, which hasn’t been adjusted in years, is based on tax capacity and population, which has led to a decrease in state funding to certain library regions.

“So we’re seeing more of the funding going to the cities and less of it coming to us,” she said.

Worried that counties will be made responsible for providing the funds, commissioners voted to change the language in the resolution to make the funding more specific to the state.

After changing the language, commissioners approved the resolution of support.

In other action, the board approved two conditional use permits for the installation of metrological towers for EDF Renewable Energy’s proposed Oza Tanka Wind Project, which would involve construction of 80 to 100 wind turbines in the Barber Township. The two CUPs are for Dennis Becker in Barber Township and the Darrell Zimmerman Family Trust in Prescott Township for a metrological tower to be installed on each of their properties.

According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Loria Rebuffoni, the Planning Commission approved the CUPs at a meeting Feb. 13. Three members of the community spoke at the meeting concerning the proposed wind project. Two spoke in favor of the project, while one spoke against.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the CUPs.

In another matter, Lamar Piper was sworn in as Special Assistant Faribault County Attorney. The position was recently left vacant when Graham Berg-Moberg, who had been in the position since 2014, resigned after accepting an assistant county attorney position in Aitkin County.

Piper took over the assistant attorney responsibilities last week and said he is available indefinitely until a permanent replacement is found. Piper said he will be in the office about three or four days per week.