Waterloo Public Library at Commercial Street and West Park Avenue.

WATERLOO — Black Hawk County has boosted its funding for local libraries but still lags behind the state average.

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a contract raising financial support for the seven city libraries from $146,000 to $150,000 for the fiscal year starting July 1.

It was the fifth time in seven years the supervisors increased the libraries’ allocation but still keeps the county below the average per capita county support complied by the State Library of Iowa.

Directors for the public libraries in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, Hudson, Dunkerton, Janesville and La Porte City had sought $160,000 next year in a budget request to the supervisor in January.

“People sometimes question the relevance of library services in our culture of easy access through the internet,” the directors said in their request letter. “However, our core purpose has not changed, and demand for library services has not decreased.

“Now more than ever, libraries and librarians empower community members in accessing information,” they added. “Libraries are not warehouses. We are actively engaged conduits that serve to assist people who need equitable access to services and information.”

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Residents and businesses in each city pay property taxes to support the operation of the public libraries, which are open to everyone regardless of whether they live in the city or not.

The supervisors have traditionally provided financial support to the libraries from the rural property tax levy, which is only paid by property owners outside the city limits but who still benefit by accessing services the libraries provide.

Statewide, the average county support for rural residents was $18.54 per capita this year, while Black Hawk County’s support next year is $15.76 per person. Support in metropolitan counties like Polk, Story, Woodbury, Linn, Scott and Pottawattamie counties all exceed the state average.

The per capita support from Black Hawk County municipalities to their libraries averaged $50.28 last year.

The distribution for the coming year: Waterloo, $62,969; Cedar Falls, $32,150; La Porte City, $16,058; Dunkerton, $15,514; Hudson, $14,609; Janesville, $6,239; and Evansdale, $2,461.

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