Township renews agreement with Bessemer Library


June 15, 2018


Ironwood Township — While they may have been sympathetic to the Ironwood Carnegie Library’s case, the numbers gave the Ironwood Township Board of Trustees little option but to renew the township’s contract with the Bessemer Public Library for another year of library services.

The board voted 4-3 Thursday to approve a one-year agreement with the Bessemer Library, which will begin July 1. Supervisor Steve Boyd, Treasurer Maria Graser and Trustee Kevin Lyons voted against contracting with Bessemer.

“It’s a tough decision. Personally, I’ve gone to the Bessemer Public Library; it’s been fine. I’ve gone to the Ironwood Library, it’s been fine,” Trustee Marlene Saari-Mieloszyk said. “I think it comes down to the money at this time. Until we see what we’re going to get back from the insurance and the bonding (with former treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso’s embezzlement case), I just hate to put any money out right now.”

The Bessemer Library was only charging the township its penal fines as the cost of using the library, whereas the Carnegie Library was asking for $6,999 and the penal fines to provide service.

Ironwood library director Lynne Wiercinski said the fee had to be there not only to fund the programs the library offers, but because the library also charges the city of Ironwood and Erwin Township an additional fee for service.

Board members repeatedly stressed that their preferences for either library shouldn’t be interpreted as objections to the other option and there were no complaints with either library. Several wished there was the possibility of a future cooperative agreement that would let residents use both libraries if they wanted.

“Working with both (libraries), it’s been a wonderful time as far as relationships go,” Boyd said. “I have no complaints about either, they both offer a lot of good things.”

He also said he felt a majority of township residents seemed to prefer the idea of going with the Carnegie Library and it provided many services to residents and students.

The closest thing to criticism came from Lyons, who said he was disappointed with the fact that while the city of Bessemer was receiving all the township’s penal fines, the entire amount didn’t appear to be used for library services.

“That bothers me,” he told Bessemer Library Director Melissa Lupino. “I know it’s not you, I know there are other powers at be, but that really bothers me. I think all that money should be going into library services.”

The township has contracted with Bessemer for just over three years.

Lupino pushed back, arguing the city subsidizes the library to a larger degree than just penal fines, which she said helps ease the city’s burden and helped fund recent renovations.

“We have seen a lot of good that come from it, and it wasn’t just dumped into the city’s coffers,” she told the board.

Regardless of the outcome, the Carnegie Library is lowering the costs for non-member library cards to $30.

In other action:

—The board tabled a contract with Mike Foley to lease township land to him.

—Boyd reported the township had hired a second seasonally employee to work for the summer. When the board approved hiring the original seasonal employee, it authorized up to 30 hours each week. This second employee will only work the difference in hours between what the first employee works and the 30-hour ceiling.


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