By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township residents will have access to the Benton Harbor Public Library for another three years as of Tuesday.
Trustees agreed to a library services agreement at Tuesday’s board meeting, which gives residents full access to the city’s library.
Superintendent Kelli Nelson said the service agreement permits the Berrien County Treasurer and the Library of Michigan to make the respective penal fine payments and state aid payments directly to the Benton Harbor Library Board.
“Since this is a renewal, it doesn’t change anything,” Nelson said. “As part of the agreement we have permitted our penal fines and our state aid to library funding as a way to give residents the continued access to the Benton Harbor library.”
The state regularly sets aside an amount of aid to each municipality that it can put toward a public library. Benton Township’s state aid goes to the Benton Harbor library because the township does not have one itself.
Nelson said the township has had an agreement with the city’s library for more than 20 years.
She she said the majority of the service agreements have been in three-year increments.
“In addition to remitting penal fines, we used to give them a contracted contribution each year,” Nelson said. “But when we had some financial constraints in 2013, we discontinued the contributions. It was part of a six-month termination clause.”
Now the township sets aside a smaller contribution in addition to the penal fines and state aid when the budget allows for it, Nelson said. This year’s contribution will be $25,000.
Because of the service agreement, two township residents from the community are appointed by the Township Board to represent them on the Benton Harbor Library Board.
“Residents receive full library services, like any other Benton Harbor citizen can,” Nelson said. “It’s the same rights and privileges.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 8, 2016)