Councilwoman Laurin Easthom wanted to plan for a non-resident library user fee starting next July, and colleague Matt Czajkowski wanted to start even sooner than that, but the rest of the Town Council decided Monday to give the Orange County commissioners a chance to increase their funding to the Chapel Hill Public Library next fiscal year.
The town has been complaining for years that county residents from outside Chapel Hill borrow 40 percent of the library’s materials but the county pays only about 10 percent of the library’s budget – not even accounting for what Chapel Hill residents pay toward the county’s own libraries in Hillsborough and Carrboro. But commissioners recently decided they couldn’t pay any more than their standard $250,000 for the fiscal year beginning next month.
Easthom suggested forfeiting that money and charging county residents an annual fee just like the library charges patrons from outside Orange County. The council has not considered a specific fee proposal, but non-county residents pay $60 per year to use the town’s library.