GARDINER — Bills have gone out to partner communities that pay for their residents to use the Gardiner Public Library, calling for a 3 percent increase over what they paid last year. The Gardiner City Council recently approved passing along the increase, but council members also want to see a long-term plan in which the partner communities pay fees that are closer to their fair share of support for the library. A report is due back to the City Council in November.

Litchfield, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner residents are able to use the Gardiner Public Library because their towns pay an annual fee that allows them access. Farmingdale, which had been a partner community in the past, is paying a lower, short-term fee while it re-evaluates interest by its residents in using the library.

From now to November, Anne Davis, director of library and information services, will work with the library’s board of trustees — which includes one member from each of the partner towns — to review pricing schemes, bringing in expertise where necessary, to develop an equitable and sustainable funding model.

At one point, the member towns paid a fee based on circulation, mirroring their use of library services. When Farmingdale withdrew, the remaining towns couldn’t make up the difference among them, and fees were kept largely unchanged.

Davis said she’s not sure she wants to return to that model, because it doesn’t necessarily reflect what the library has to offer.

The issue of funding for the library, which represents just 4 percent of the city’s budget, has been contentious in recent months, following a review of the level of service provided by city departments. Gardiner residents pay in some cases more than twice what residents in neighboring towns pay through their taxes.

“We are the people who pay the most, but we reap the most benefit,” City Councilor Jon Ault said.

In considering how much the partner communities would pay, Davis told city councilors a couple factors ought to be considered.

“We have to weigh things beyond our control,” Davis told city councilors. “If revenue sharing comes back, the towns will be able to afford (the library). If the economy gets better, people aren’t watching tax dollars with such anxiety.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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