When will the Glacier County Library open? According to Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson, the library will remain closed until county officials resolve the “issue” and “payoff” of the amount still owed to School District No. 9.
During the Sept. 1 Glacier County Commissioner meeting on the FY 2020-21 preliminary budget, Kittson said he “needs to discuss with HR and the Commissioners” the reopening of the library. He said a month ago he anticipated the reopening would be Sept. 1 but since the “Browning Schools issue is still not resolved” the reopening is on hold.
Kittson said until the “payoff to the Browning Schools” is resolved, he is “not comfortable making the recommendation to the commissioners” to reopen the public library.
Kittson continued, “It’s kind of gone silent on the school’s end,” adding, “It’s between the county attorney and the school’s legal counsel.”
It’s been a year since School District No. 9 filed a writ of mandate in Glacier County District Court asking the District Court to require Glacier County Treasurer Don Wilson to “immediately” enter into agreements and transfer “all school funds” currently in his control to the Browning, East Glacier and Mountain View School Districts. Wilson completed the transfer of East Glacier and Mountain View funds earlier this year.
A large portion of Browning School District’s funds have been transferred but School District No. 9 and Glacier County officials have yet to complete the transfer of the remaining funds. County officials at one time estimated they are holding approximately $1.6 million, a figure disputed by School District No. 9 officials.
As of Friday, Sept. 11, Browning Schools Superintendent of Schools Corrina Guardipee Hall said, the district and county are “in negotiations.”
The Glacier County Commissioners approved the FY 2020-21 budget on Sept. 3. The FY 2019-20 library budget was $196,151. Greco said she submitted the library’s preliminary budget of $107,624 in July, pointing out, “This budget is considered a temporary solution to allow the library to reopen and serve the people of the county. It does not allow us to provide the hours and services required by the State to meet required standards, which in turn makes us ineligible for certain grant monies.”
The budget submitted included $82,458 for wages, employee benefits and payroll expenses. Greco said that is a “bare minimum.” She pointed out employees must work no less than 25 hours a week in order to retain county benefits, including health insurance.
“This is a temporary emergency solution to allow us to open our doors and be able to serve the public,” adding, this is “not sustainable long-term.”
The remaining $25,000 in the budget will fund the supplies, security system, inspections, postage, print and audio/visual services, utilities, telephone and Internet and computer services and equipment. The training budget has been eliminated.
Also cut entirely from the budget is rent for the East Glacier Women’s Club for the East Glacier library services, building repairs, and the summer reading program.
In approving the budget submitted by Greco, county officials increased the “purchased services” budget to $2,050 up from the requested $1,050.
They also included an “interfund operating transfer out–transfer to other fund” expense of $37,376 to reimburse the PILT fund for expenses from FY 2019-20.
The total final budget approved for the library was $146,000.
(More on the Glacier County FY 2020-21 budget will be published in coming issues.)