La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat is proposing the city and county library systems merge together to help save funds, but La Crosse County is not on board just yet.
Kabat said his proposal would simplify how the libraries are funded and would lower the library tax city residents currently pay. The city council is requesting the county's action to support the merger, but the county wants to look further into this, asking the public what they would like to see in a library system.
"We hope the public is interested in weighing in on the process. What kind of library system do they want? Do they support a merger? What would that look like? Just transferring it over to the county doesn't solve budgetary problems that the city is having, so we think jumping to that conclusion is premature," County Administrator Steve O'Malley said.
He wants to be sure the culture of each library system is considered before any action is taken.
"The library system for the city is a much larger system. It's taxed for differently. They are city employees not county employees, different benefits, different pay, different levels of service, different offerings. While our county library system, to rural areas is a much different level of service and a different relationship with the municipalities," O'Malley said.
A resolution will come before the county board in September, asking to set up a task force of all the stakeholders, library board members, council and county board members and the community to have an open public discussion on the merger.
The La Crosse City Library System is in the process of putting together its own strategic plan. It is unconnected to the Mayor's proposal.
There are three listening sessions scheduled. The first is set for August 27 at 10:00 a.m. at the Main Street Library, and another Wednesday August 31 at the south branch public library at 5:00 p.m. The final listening session scheduled will be at the north branch on September 7 at 5:00 p.m.