MLCL says OK to teamup with city, county

MARSHALL – Members of the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board said they’d be willing to work together with Lyon County and the city of Marshall, to figure out tentative plans for the library’s future. However, the discussion at a special meeting held Monday made it clear that whatever approach the group takes, they’ll need to do it quickly. Like all Minnesota cities and counties, Marshall and Lyon County will need to set preliminary budgets and levies in September.

The MLCL Board voted 5-0 in favor of participating in a joint city/county/library committee, to look at conflict resolution or other plans to move forward on. Monday’s special meeting was called in response to a proposal from Marshall City Council, suggesting the library board, city and county work together to try and resolve conflicts surrounding the library. In June, the MLCL Board voted to leave the Plum Creek Regional Library System, and questions about the county’s future relationship with MLCL are still unresolved.

Last week, Marshall City Council member Glenn Bayerkohler brought forward a memorandum of understanding he had drafted on the subject. The memo’s terms called for continued efforts to resolve conflict between MLCL and Plum Creek, as well as a joint city/county/MLCL committee to decide what the next step for the library should be.

MLCL Board President Gwen Sturrock presented Bayerkohler’s memo to the library board on Monday.

Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the city’s intent in calling for a joint committee would be to use Bayerkohler’s memo as a framework and develop an official memo or plan to move forward. Martig suggested that the joint committee have a proposal ready by the end of August.

MLCL board members Will Thomas and Tom Runholt agreed it was important to work with the city and county. However, they expressed concerns over some of the terms in Bayerkohler’s original memo, which called for MLCL to rejoin Plum Creek.

“I’m not sure immediate re-entry would be in our best interest,” Runholt said. Thomas said there are no guarantees Plum Creek will be interested in engaging with whatever solution the committee puts together.

County Commissioner and MLCL board member Charlie Sanow said decisions about the library’s future funding should definitely be made jointly with the city and the county.

MLCL board member Steve Klein said he supported the idea of a joint committee but was less sure about the timing.

“I seriously believe we need a bit of a cooling-off period,” Klein said.

“We can’t drag this out until November,” Sanow replied. Lyon County is required by law to support libraries in a regional library system, he said, and commissioners can’t wait much longer before they need to start making budgetary decisions for 2015.

If MLCL stays independent, Lyon County will have to distribute its annual maintenance of effort funds elsewhere, Sanow said. “That’s a very serious fact.”

“I think it’s safe to say it’s time to deal with the issue,” Martig said. He said local governments need to set preliminary 2015 levies in September.

MLCL board members voted unanimously to participate in a joint committee, with the goal of having a more final memorandum of understanding ready to vote on by the end of the month.

Martig said he would coordinate among the three parties to schedule meeting times.