See PDF of this 41 page report: Racine County Governance 2004

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Report Summary

Hennen Library Consulting completed this comprehensive governance options study for this county of 200,000some residents in southeastern Wisconsin. The study presented six options for governance and funding to library planners. The library ultimately chose to remain with the status quo. Nevertheless, the library was better able to explain the pros and cons of available options to their library boards and government agencies.  

Racine County has a population of about 200,000 and is 40 miles from Milwaukee and 70 miles from Chicago. Interstate 94 divides the county into two pieces, the densely populated urban and suburban area between Lake Michigan and the sparsely populated rural and farming area to the west. Many of the residents on the east side of I-94 commute to Milwaukee or Chicago for employment. 

Racine County has five libraries, the largest in Racine City with a population of 80,000. East of I-94, six municipalities with a combined population of 60,000 surround Racine City. These six municipalities do not have their own libraries. Instead, a county levy pays for a contract with the federated library system. West of I-94, there are 60,000 residents served by the four smaller libraries in Racine County. The area is about evenly divided between residents of library communities and non-library communities taxed by the county for library service. 

 Although 20 states have legislation allowing district libraries, Wisconsin is not one of them. In 2004, when Hennen was chair of the legislative committee, the Wisconsin Library Association recommended district legislation. The state library agency distributed competitive Library Services and Construction Act (LSTA) grants to plan for districts. Racine Public Library received one of the grants. The library hired Hennen to conduct a governance options and district study. 

 The purpose of the LSTA grant was to gather information on possible changes to the district library legislation that WLA hoped to have introduced in the legislative session that started in January of 2005.

 The study considered these options:

  • Consolidated County
  • Districts East and West
  • Suburban District with Racine
  • Suburban District without Racine
  • Mount Pleasant as Stand Alone Library
  • West End Library District Without Current Libraries

 Committee members recommended that only option 3, a suburban district east of I-94 and including the city of Racine, be advanced. This meant that no districts were recommended for the area west of I-94 and that the county would continue to use the county special library levy to tax the six towns west of I-94 without libraries for library services. 

 Organization of the 42-page report

  • Chapter 1 provides an executive summary of the committee’s conclusions.
  • Chapter 2 indicates the committee’s recommendation to explore a joint library district for Racine City and the six municipalities east of Interstate 94 in Racine County.
  • Chapter 3 indicates the other options for districts or consolidation considered by the committee.
  • Chapter 4 discusses the use of impact fees to fund library services in library districts.
  • Chapter 5 covers the variety of types of library organizations found in the U.S., Wisconsin, and Racine County.
  • Chapter 6 provides background information on library services in Racine County.
  • Chapter 7 discusses circulation patterns in the county and their impact on districts.
  • Chapter 8 looks at the current Wisconsin Library Association proposal for library district legislation.
  • Chapter 9 provides further background information on library districts.