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Friends of Library outcry changes fee proposal

POULSBO — A plan to raise library room rental fees has been recanted after an overwhelmingly negative response from Friends of the Library members.

Last month, Mayor Donna Jean Bruce approached the city’s Public Works Committee with the suggestion that rental of the Valborg Oyen Library community room be raised from it’s current $10 an hour. Bruce said the city’s Library Board felt the fee was not covering all of the room’s expenses, including clean up and damaged furniture.

Committee members agreed and suggested a new room rental fee of $20 an hour for all groups. However, Friends of the Library members were irked by the plan and said they felt their group should not have to pay double the current cost to use the meeting space. The organization is active in contributing money and man power to the facility, including having bought all of the furniture for the new community room.

Friends of the Library member Barbara Monks addressed the city council on Nov. 6 to ask that Poulsbo consider either a sliding scale fee or free use of the facility for non-profit organizations. Friends of the Library is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization.

On Wednesday, the Public Works Committee reviewed the request.

Councilwoman Jackie Aitchison said she and the mayor had discussed raising fees, but exempted the Friends of the Library from paying the community room usage cost. She also pointed out that City Attorney Jim Haney said Poulsbo would be within its legal rights to make such a clause in the fee schedule.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” answered Councilman Jeff McGinty. “We just need to make sure it’s fair, equitable, all those things.”

All three Public Works Committee members agreed on a new proposal for library room rental fees:

• No charge for Friends of the Library.

• $20/hour for commercial and private groups (non 501c3).

• $15/hour for governmental entities.

• $10/hour for non-profits.

The committee considered exempting all non-profits, however, Aitchison pointed out that $10 an hour is what groups are currently paying and said she felt at least some costs still needed to be recovered for the room.

“We could (not charge non-profits), but then we’d be back with the fee not covering the expense,” Aitchison added. “Kitsap County charges $15 an hour and there’s always the option that if an organization can’t pay they can use the upstairs conference room.”

A vote from council is pending.

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