The Lake County Rescue Squad and Two Harbors and Silver Bay public libraries submitted their budget requests to county commissioners Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Rescue squad requests new truck

The Lake County Rescue Squad is requesting funding in the county's 2020 budget for the replacement of a 1995 rescue vehicle out of its Two Harbors station.

"That truck has been in service faithfully for 25 years now," rescue squad member Bob Norlen said. "And it’s still serviceable but probably beyond its life expectancy for an emergency vehicle."

The proposed cost for the purchase of a new chassis and compartment for a new truck is estimated to cost around $155,000, not to exceed $175,000. Norlen said he hasn't requested specific bids yet because he wanted to see if the commissioners would support the request.

The commissioners said they would take the request under advisement when setting the 2020 budget.

Libraries seek more funding

Two Harbors and Silver Bay public libraries asked commissioners for more funding in the 2020 budget. Library directors Katie Sundstrom of Two Harbors and Julie Billings of Silver Bay requested a funding increase from $45,000 to $65,000 for each library. It's been 10 years since support has been increased to the libraries.

Both librarians cited an increased need for staff training in technology and services, programming and technology replacement.

"I certainly understand it’s been a long time since you’ve been here, but can you briefly tell me, if we grant you this budget request, what’s going to change this coming year versus what’s happening this year?" Commissioner Rick Goutermont asked.

Sundstrom cited a need to increase staff wages at the Two Harbors Library.

"If you look regionwide, the average library technician salary would be $18.50 an hour. My staff are still making $12.50 an hour," Sundstrom said. "Other cities of the same size, they’re making $24 an hour. My staff has fallen really behind and as a result of that; I have really high turnover."

Sundstrom said the library board is prepared to follow through on a wage increase if the funding comes through.

In Silver Bay, Billings cited the need for staff replacement due to retirement, increased programming and a long-term plan to move the front doors for the library.

"It's an accessibility issue, as right now the doors face a 75-foot walk," Billings said. "I’ll sometimes bring books out to someone with a cane as it’s a long way to walk when the wind is at their face and it’s below zero. We’d like to expand by the Lake County Ambulance building and have the entrance near the parking lot instead of walking between the two buildings."

Commissioners didn't make any promises, but said they would take the requests under advisement when working on the budget.