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Published September 06, 2011, 10:15 PM

GF Council Approves 2012 Budget, Cuts Library Tax

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - In a 4-3 vote, council members cut a proposed tax increase that could have generated about $150,000 for employee salary increases at the Grand Forks Public Library.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The City Council approved a $128 Million preliminary budget for 2012, but not with out making a few cuts.

In a 5-2 vote, council members cut a proposed tax increase that could have generated about $150,000 for employee salary increases at the Grand Forks Public Library. Council Member Terry Bjerke said he was fine with raises as long as they are done through the Library Board.

"It's their property, it's their budget, fine, let them do what ever they want. I'm going to do everything I can to not give them more money. If they want to raise salaries, raise them," said Bjerke.

According to Grand Forks Public Library Director, Wendy Wendt, there has not been an increase in almost 20 years. Some council members said the money could be taken out of a 150 thousand dollar surplus the library has.

"It would be fiscally irresponsible of me to spend one-time money on an on-going expense when I can't guarantee further funding. I can't give my staff something this year and tell them next year it's been delayed," said Wednt.

Council member Eliot Glassheim wanted the council to consider looking at increases in 2013 and 2014 so the council could have more discussion.

"This year we're not asking for a mill increase. But it is a moral commitment What it is is a moral commitment to put them up to speed," said Glassheim.

Glassheim's motion did not pass. Bjerke said, like with other budgets, the library should look at making cuts to raise salaries because it is not the city's responsibility, and it could jeopardize other entities.

"Next we are going to send snowplowers out with plastic shovels, firefighters with super soakers and police can Barney Fife it with one bullet. The library board has a decision to make! If something has to be done differently do it differently. Don't let them off the hook," said Bjerke.

Wendt said 75-percent of the library's budget is personnel. So doing things differently would mean cuts in hours and people.

"It's pretty hard to come before a council who says I refuse to balance the budget on the backs of employees and then they say, oh but that's what the library should do," said Wendt.

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