Kenai council nixes library fee

KENAI — Rural Kenai residents won’t have to shell out $20 to keep reading.

The Kenai City Council nixed a resolution that would have charged those living outside city limits to pay a $20 library card fee, the Peninsula Clarion reported.

That would have affected more than 7,000 Kenai Library card holders, or approximately 65 percent of everyone who uses the library.

The fee would have raised about $50,000. Proponents argued it would have reduced the subsidy for outside city users provided by Kenai property tax payers.

Council member Terry Bookey moved to strike down the proposed fee, saying the library is an essential service that should be free and open to all.

Vice mayor Ryan Marquis worried a fee would keep people away from the library.

“The library is an important community asset and belongs to the community larger than those who live in the city boundaries,” Marquis said. “The people who use the library also use our stores and contribute to our economy just as much as anyone in the city. I would like to see the library used by as many people as possible regardless of whether or not they want to pay.”

But council member Brian Gabriel said $20 a year was not too much to ask and was the lone vote for the fee.

There has been discussions for years to institute the fee as a way to generate more revenue for the city without burdening city taxpayers, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said.

The anticipated $50,000 had been included in the next budget, which will now have to be changed to account for that revenue, Marquis said.

It was one of four changes the Kenai City Council considered last week involving the budget. The Council voted to raise the rent at Vintage Pointe Manor, the city’s senior living facility; increased the parking fee at the Kenai Municipal airport; and upped water and sewer rates.

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