I am writing this letter to inform the general public of the actual exchange that happened recently at the Pelican Rapids City Council meeting on September 10.

During that meeting, one of the agenda items that we discussed was the approval of the city budget. Per Minnesota state statute, the city is required to fund the library at the amount of $117,000 dollars per year. Current funding is in excess of $188,000 per year. 

We are currently funding the library at 61% over what we are required to by law. During the meeting, I made the comment that we could cut the funding of the library to $150,000 and still be over 25% of what we are required to pay. But please, don’t take my word for it. Go to the library, watch and listen to the dvd recording of the meeting. 

My issue is not necessarily that we fund the library at an unsustainable level, which in my opinion we cant, but is with the management system set up by the state, and how that system is being manipulated by the library board and director.

The library staff are city employees, yet we have a department head that refuses to attend department head meetings. We have city employees that are reluctant to cooperate and communicate with city administration and city hall staff. 

We have city employees that are granted benefits that other part time city staff are not given, because they have been granted those benefits by the library board. During the budget discussions, a cost of living increase (COLA) is included for all city employees, why then, if the library staff are city employees, do we have to have an additional line item in the budget for an additional COLA increase for library staff?  

In Mr. Runnigen’s letter, he stated that library staff facilitate the use of the meeting rooms, yet at the city council meeting on September 24, 2019, a Friends of the Library representative stated that keys to the library are given out so that meetings can be held after hours. So by “facilitate” Mr. Runningen meant they answered the phone and reserved the date and time of the meeting and arranged key dispersal. But again, don’t take my word for it, a dvd copy is available at the library, please listen to confirm (and it’s at the beginning so you don’t have to watch/listen to the whole meeting).

None of the city council or administration want the library to close. None of the city council doubt the importance of the library or the amount of which the library and the meeting rooms are used. 

It is revealing to me that when asked what would happen if library funding were to be cut to the $150,000 that was commented, the very first response is “We would have to cut services or staff.” 

No conversation is had about what could be done to raise additional funds. The immediate scare tactic of slash and burn is used. 

Township donations are down significantly. Why, when reported usage from non-city residents is up?  

The misinformation presented to the public causes irrational fear, but that’s the goal. Rally support for the cause by giving inaccurate information so that things sound more desperate than they really are, but leave out the facts that portray the other side of the issue. 

Please review the dvd recordings of the city council meetings on September 10 and 24, 2019. 

Listen to and understand all of the facts, from both sides of an issue so that you aren’t reacting to inaccurate and biased information.

Kevin Ballard, 

Pelican Rapids City Council