Lincoln County’s Library Dilemma, A Vote That Matters

Estimated read time 4 min read

In the pretty places of Lincoln County, Montana, its beloved libraries are at risk. On June 4th when people vote, they have a big choice to make. They’ll decide if they want an independent area just for Libby, Troy, and Eureka’s libraries. This choice could change how the libraries get money and shows how much the community cares about learning, having access to information and public services.


A Big Choice When Money Is Tight

Leaders named Josh Letcher, Brent Teske and Jim Hammons all agreed voters should get to choose to make a new library zone. They suggest raising property taxes by 13.49 mills so that there will be enough money for the libraries in the future. These places have been helping folks around here for almost one hundred years.

Tough time. It’s been four years, and there are big money problems caused by the fall of the wood business and rising costs to keep things running. For people who own property, here’s what this means, if your place is worth $100,000, you’ll pay an extra $18.21 in taxes each year. If it’s worth $300,000, that goes up to $54.63 annually. And for a $600,000 property, add another $109.27 each year to your bill. They’re doing this to make sure our libraries can keep going because they’re super important to us all.

Diverging Views on Fiscal Responsibility

Against this tax talk is an even bigger argument about how the county spends its money and keeps track of it properly. At one of their recent meetings some folks were not happy with the county giving workers a 1.5% raise because everything costs more now living wise. There was big talk about where our money should go instead. Laura Finley from Troy who helps run the county library board said giving out raises when we have tight budgets is a bad idea financially speaking.

The county and its libraries.

Commission Chair Josh Letcher said to explain why it’s hard to pay deputies at the sheriff’s office more. He pointed out that when they get raises, it has to go hand in hand with pay raises for elected officials too.


Community members showing they care.

The idea of starting a library district on its own got lots of different people involved kids who are still in school, their moms and dads, and older folks too. The person who keeps county records found out that almost everyone wants to keep the libraries going because they help with learning, using computers, and keeping the community strong.


Linda Owen who lives here saying she’d agree to higher taxes if it means the libraries can keep doing their important work. There were students like Christina Hammer and Sophia Wilson too, they told stories about what the library means to them personally.


How important the library is to people’s learning, growth, and safety. But not everyone thinks making a library district is the best choice. Evan Comella says we should look at other ways to get money like grants and gifts. This would help homeowners save on taxes. The community can’t decide which way to go yet.


A decadelong talk now reaching a decision point. People first thought about making an independent library district ten years ago because money from the county was getting less. With costs going up and yearly expenses at $540,000, those who run the library say becoming a district is the only way they can keep things running well.


This conversation happens as Lincoln County faces its own money problems with a shortfall of $1.6 million dollars and running out of extra federal funds used in their budget before. This is a time for the people living here to think about voting. It’s not just about the money they need to keep things going. They are talking about how important it is for everyone in the community to help out, how everyone should be able to learn, and how much public libraries really matter.


On June 4th, when the folks in Lincoln County vote, they’re doing more than just saying yes or no to some tax thing. They’re choosing what will happen with their libraries and that means a lot for how their community will look in the future. The people who want the libraries to stay strong keep saying that libraries are super important because they offer learning chances, new things to discover, and a place where people can feel safe. This shows what makes libraries special places in Montana.

Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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