Consistent funding keeps Iosco-Arenac Libraries moving forward
TAWAS — In 2005, the Iosco-Arenac District Library (IADL) saw more than $20,000 lost in its funding from penal fines in Arenac County, which had been collecting $155,000 on average during the past three years before the drop. Since 2006, the penal fine funding has been consistently close to the same amount, though, and this year is no different.
According to Arenac County’s 81st District Court Clerk Dawn Freehling, through November, Arenac County has collected $122,199.10 in penal fines. Of that amount, Arenac County Treasurer Dennis Stawowy says $2,500 is given to the Arenac County Law Library and the rest is allocated to the IADL.
In light of Act 59 of 1964 in Michigan Legislature, which says “the proceeds of all fines for any breach of the penal laws of this state when collected in any county and paid into the county treasury, together with all moneys heretofore collected and paid into the county treasury on account of such fines and not already apportioned, shall be apportioned by the county treasurer in accordance with the directions of the state board for libraries, as provided in section 8, before August 1 of each year among those public libraries and county libraries established under Act No. 138 of the Public Acts of 1917,” Arenac County distributes those funds twice each year in January and July.
Stawowy says every December he receives confirmation from the Library of Congress on the status of public libraries in Arenac County.
He also says most penal fines are accumulated through civil infractions, traffic tickets and misdemeanors.
“It really is kind of a weird situation,” Stawowy said of the process used to fund public and county libraries through penal fines. “It’s really ironic.
Just look at where funding comes from for children’s immunizations and other health care. The [State of Michigan] earmarks liquor taxes and cigarette taxes for those shots. You’d like to see a perfect world where people don’t speed and they (health officials) are always telling you not to smoke or drink but if those things didn’t happen, we’d have a $300,000 loss in funding for the library and couldn’t afford to keep kids healthy. It’s just the system.”
IADL Manager Stephanie Olson says penal fines account for about a quarter of the libraries profits and says she uses that money on supplies for all eight of the two counties’ libraries.
“Most of our funding comes from a millage that ends in 2013,” Olson said. “But penal fines are our second biggest source of income.”
She says even though penal funding hasn’t increased lately, the area’s libraries are comparable, if not better, than most libraries in the state.
“The only thing that would really hurt us right now would be if the state aid is cut out,” Olson said. “Then we might have to reduce our book budget.”
She also says the IADL participates in a partnership program with the Arenac County Historical Society and a state-wide service that allows the library to use 240 university libraries as well as a state-wide delivery service to assist the library in retrieving and sending books.
“99.9 percent of the time, we can get any book you’re looking for,” Olson said. “Right now we’re shipping out 300 books to other libraries.”
She says the IADL is also looking to incorporate adult programs into each of its branches as the branches already have broad children’s programs.
“We’re also working on installing some new computer software programs,” Olson said. “The good thing is that the local branches get to determine their own needs and programs, so if you’re looking for a new program ask at your local library.”
For more information about the Iosco-Arenac District Libraries’ happenings and programs, visit http://ioscoarenaclibrary.org or call 989-362-2651.