Cost savings an absolute must for library merger idea

Congratulations and a thumbs-up to the Ward County Commission for pushing ahead with library merger negotiations with the City of Minot, as well as for the demand that the plan is only going to fly with the public if there are cost savings as a result.

Commissioners are right on both issues. One, it makes solid sense for the city and county libraries to merge. There is no reason to duplicate library services at two venues. Some may feel that the purposes of libraries have diminished in recent years because of the internet. The truth, though, is that libraries have adapted to new needs with new programs and offerings that continue to make them vital components of communities.

That said, eliminating crossover services is responsible policy. If – as the county commission asserted – there is an associated cost savings. Otherwise, the point is purely academic with no real benefit to local residents.

“If we are going to launch this, one of the major goals should be to decrease the costs to the taxpayers,” Commissioner John Fjeldahl said. “(If) all we are going to do is merge and continue on as we are, I am not for this.”

Commissioner Shelly Weppler also supported amending language in the resolution to specify that cost savings is an objective.

Weppler’s call is essential – there is no reason to move forward with this plan if cost savings isn’t an objective. Without that, the issue is moot.

There is some debate as to whether cost savings would be immediate in the future. That shouldn’t be a concern. Typically, the savings would come at the end of the process when the merger has been engineered, systems unified and a cost-cutting plan implemented. That’s perfect, because the city and county will be looking to cut costs for years to come.

It’s hugely beneficial to see the City of Minot supportive of discussions as well.

Minot Daily News has called on all tax-supported institutions to look at cost savings as a way to address today’s budget constrains. In examining the issue, the city and county are doing just that.

Good job.