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Increased library hours could raise taxes in Verona

By Emily Kumlien, ekumlien@wisctv.com
Published On: Oct 29 2013 09:47:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 30 2013 06:40:11 AM CDT

Verona Public Library

VERONA, Wis. -

The Verona Public Library is proposing budget changes that could open the library on Sundays and raise taxes for residents.

Community leaders want to have the library that was named Wisconsin’s Library of the Year and is an important landmark in Verona available more often, but the schedule change would mean more money from taxpayers.

“Our mission statement is to build a community by bringing a world of knowledge together and that is what we feel we do,” said Verona Library Director Brian Simons.

For the past seven years, the Verona Public Library has enhances the community and now it’s director is asking for a little more.

"Even though we are doing a lot, there is a bigger demand than what we can keep up for," said Simons.

Simons said research shows that communities with a vibrant library have people who are literate and engaged, less crime and are generally a better place to live.

"It's definitely a balancing act, and you have to balance priorities," said Elizabeth Doyle, Verona District 1 alderperson. She said tough decisions have to be made and Sunday hours are long-term goals.

Doyle said it would cost about a half million dollars to include Sunday hours in the library's schedule, which is why it is a long-term goal.

"(There's) no way to get that in one budget cycle," said Doyle.

Simons said the proposal is in preliminary stages, but that he would have to add about eight more staff members to the existing 15 to open the library on Sundays.

"The board has been very very supportive as well. They have a vision, they support the vision I have and it's been a very positive experience even if this is a longer term thing and the support isn't there that is OK. We have been supported in the past and we know we will continue to be supported in some effort," said Simons.

Library and city officials said they are willing to work together to make Sunday hours a reality.

Simons said demand is there because they average 183 checkouts an hour and libraries in Middleton, Sun Prairie and Fitchburg are open Sundays.

The Verona City Council will be asking for input from residents on the topic at three public hearings scheduled for Nov. 11, 18 and 25.

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