GARDINER — City Councilors this week will consider a 3 percent increase in fees for towns that receive services from the Gardiner Public Library.

Anne Davis, the library’s director, said the library has experienced a spike in circulation and usage, but her board of trustees decided the traditional method of charging a per-use formula would result in too much of an increase for towns struggling in a poor economy.

“My board of trustees usually agree to charge a percentage of circulation. So, for instance, if you use 10 percent of circulation you’re billed 10 percent of my overall operation,” Davis said Monday. “That formula worked really great until we got really, really busy and circulation really spiked.”

She said small towns would have a difficult time getting their residents to approve a large increase in library services.

The library board of trustees had considered a 5 and 7 percent increase before settling on a flat increase of 3 percent, she said.

“I’m hoping councilors agree that it’s worth it to have a little increase so this partnership doesn’t dissolve,” she said. “I’m pretty sure even if we didn’t sell library services to any of the towns, Gardiner would always want to have a library and they would have to pick up the whole budget. This is a way to recoup some of the cost of running a public library in town.”

She said Gardiner sells library services to Litchfield, Pittston, West Gardiner and Randolph.

Between fiscal year 2010 and 2011 the library budget experienced a less than a 0.5 percent increase, approximately $2,000, she said. The library’s annual budget from the city for 2010-11 is just over $295,000, she said.

The library itself is able to bring in $98,842 in revenues to offset the operational costs. The money goes into the city’s general fund.

Davis would not say what it would cost the city if towns were only charged a 3 percent increase.

“It’s based on a budget that’s already been expended,” she said. “It’s actually based on last year’s charges for services already rendered. It’s really not much money when you consider what they’re getting for services.”

She said towns do not all work on a July fiscal year, so they have to be charged based on an expended budget.

Increases to towns are: Litchfield, $527; Pittston, $603; Randolph, $494; and West Gardiner, $890.

In other business, councilors Wednesday also will discuss a request from the Kennebec Valley Gas Company to create a tax increment financing district and tax break to help finance construction of a natural gas pipeline project. The gas company is seeking tax breaks from the 12 communities the pipeline would travel through.

Councilors also will hear a second reading of the fireworks ordinance, which would ban the retail sale and use of fireworks in the community; consider a request from Pine State to change the name of AG Drive to Market Street, since the company is in the process of moving into the old Associated Grocers facility off U.S. Route 201; the city manager’s contract; and to waive a requirement to bid out assessment services and instead award a three-year agreement to the city’s current assessor, Curt Lebel.

Councilors in executive session also will consider two requests from residents who have had their property foreclosed to extend their time to pay their back taxes; discuss a personnel matter; an extension of the city manager’s contract; and review financial documents from Kennebec Valley Gas.

The executive session is scheduled for 5 p.m. at City Hall, followed by a business meeting at 7 p.m.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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