The process to eventually build a library in Cottage Grove is one that requires many steps, but based on a recent survey from the Library Planning Committee, that process has the community’s support.

The Library Planning Committee (LPC) conducted a survey between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 to gauge community support in building a library in Cottage Grove.

A total of 815 people responded to the survey. Of those who answered the question, 70.8% of voters said they were either “extremely interested” or “very interested” in building a library in Cottage Grove, while 21.5% of respondents said they were “not at all interested.” A total of 6.4% of voters described themselves as either “somewhat” or “a little interested.”

Despite the majority of respondents being on board currently, it’ll be a while before shovels hit the ground on a library, if that is the direction Cottage Grove decides to go.

The LPC presented to the Cottage Grove Village Board before the holidays. During that presentation, Village President John Williams asked the board when a groundbreaking could potentially happen if everything went according to plans.

“That is too preemptive to even answer that question,” LPC Member David Peterson said. “We don’t know what we don’t know right now. We need a little more facts and figures to even take an attempt at that question…”

The LPC was asking for the village’s support to continue researching and gathering information about any future library. The village board approved allowing the LPC to move forward and come back before the board at a future date once they have more information.

The next step would be to send a packet to the Department of Public Instruction with information such as funding sources, creation of a library board and specifics from the community about what they would like to see in a potential library.

Village Trustee and LPC Chair Melissa Ratcliff said six to 12 months would be needed to get all the information needed to start moving in that direction. The LPC would present before the Village Board before sending that packet to DPI.

Questions about taxes, funding

One question that is still lingering over a potential library is that of funding. The LPC survey did not gauge residents’ interests in a library dependent on tax increases or other costs.

Village Trustee Troy Allen said that if people knew how much the library would cost on their taxes, they might change their minds, saying he was “just raising concerns of folks I’ve talked to of the cost of the library.”

Ratcliff said that wasn’t what the committee was tasked with since its formation in November of 2019, but that’s an item that the LPC will have to continue to look into.

Allen referenced the Village of McFarland’s library budget, which is set for $944,500 in 2021. The city of Monona’s library budget for 2021 is set at $851,359.

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