Brown County’s bill to Kewaunee County for library services continues to irritate representatives of the smaller county.

During the county Executive Committee meeting on Monday (June 1), County Board Chairman Dan Olson reported that the Green Bay-based library sent Kewaunee County a bill for 2019 services rendered of $71,622, of which 70 percent or $50,135 is due by next March 1. That’s an increase of about $5,000 from a year ago.

Under a state law passed at the request of larger counties about 20 years ago, counties with consolidated library systems have the power to bill neighboring counties when residents from the smaller counties borrow items from the larger libraries.

“I guess our effort to try to drive the county residents into our own libraries, to keep them out of Brown County, is not working,” Supervisor Chuck Wagner said.

Olson said the itemized bill shows that Brown County claims the cost per loan is $4.45.

“That seems extraordinary to me,” Olson said. “How inefficient are these libraries, was my thought – I mean, $4.45 to check out a book?”

The state Legislature has shown little interest in changing or repealing the law over the years, leaving Kewaunee County essentially with two options: pay up and encourage residents to use the local libraries in Algoma and Kewaunee, or form a consolidated system of its own, which would be far more expensive and deprive the local libraries of their current independence.

Wagner said it’s been a source of frustration for county officials since the law was first passed.

“The fact that the Brown County Bookmobile stops at the parking lot at Lipsky’s right next to the county line and encourages the kids from Dyckesville to go and use it all the time – it’s something I’ve been just screaming about,” Wagner said.

County Administrator Scott Feldt said the municipalities that use the Brown County library the most are on the west side of the county closer to Green Bay and Denmark.

When a Kewaunee County resident uses a Brown County library, a bill goes to Kewaunee County, but that same resident could order the item through and have it delivered at no charge to the library in Algoma or Kewaunee or a library transfer station at Nicolet Bank or Stodola’s in Luxemburg, Feldt said.

“That is why there was a push a few years ago to try to get people to order their books and movies and everything else online,” he said.

Olson read the statistics for Brown County checkouts by Kewaunee County residents – the town of Ahnapee had 26, Carlton 100, Casco 1,172, Franklin, 2,912, Lincoln 521, Luxemburg 2,741, Montpelier 1,415, Pierce 125, Red River 3,307, West Kewaunee 272, village of Casco 151, and village of Luxemburg 3,342.

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