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AM.F. TELLS NEIGHBORS TO PAY FOR LIBRARY USE

If Alpine and Highland residents want to keep using American Fork's library and want to participate in its recreational programs, somebody is going to have to pay.

But will it be the citizens or the cities?American Fork officials say that the taxpayers of American Fork have been subsidizing the use of city services by Alpine and Highland residents for too long, and it's time for the residents of the two neighboring cities to start paying their own way.

"I don't think we're out of line in asking them pay for their own share," American Fork Mayor B. Kay Hutchings said. "We are just getting to the point to where our budget is tight and we just can't (subsidize them) anymore."

American Fork officials have asked Alpine and Highland cities to pay a portion of the library and recreation budgets. If Alpine and Highland officials choose not to pay the requested amounts, residents from the cities will lose participation rights in certain American Fork recreational programs and will have to pay a non-resident fee to use the library.

Alpine and Highland officials, however, say the requested amounts are too high. They also say that sales tax revenue generated from Alpine and Highland residents shopping in American Fork should cover the costs of their using American Fork services.

But Steve Bailey, city recreation director, and Julie Farnsworth, librarian, said that the amounts requested of the two cities reflects the actual percentage of usage by their residents. And to answer Alpine and Highland's claim that sales tax revenue supports the services, the formula used to figure the amounts subtracts sales tax revenue.

Farnsworth said that if the two cities choose not to pay the requested amounts, Alpine and Highland residents will have to pay about $60 annually to use American Fork's library. Alpine residents now pay $24 annually.

Highland residents used to pay an annual fee but three years ago an agreement was reached where Highland started paying a city library fee. However, that fee has gone from $5,000 annually to this year's requested amount of more than $17,000.

"When we consider that on a per-capita basis we're getting back to where we were before we had an agreement," Highland Mayor James Hewlett said. "We can understand where American Fork is coming from but at this point we are just not convinced that the figures presented are accurate."

Farnsworth said the increased fee is due to the increase in library usage by Highland residents after the annual fee was eliminated. The fee requested of Alpine reflects a similar anticipated increase in usage, she said. She said it would take away library privileges from many people if the two cities decide not to pay the fee.

"The purpose of the library is to provide reading for those who cannot afford it," Farnsworth said. "And the purpose of government is to provide services that the citizens cannot afford to pay for themselves."

Bailey said that if the two cities choose not to pay the requested recreation fee, several recreation programs will not be made available to the cities' youth - adult programs would not be affected. He said more than 300 Alpine and Highland youths would be denied the privilege of participating in basketball, football, wrestling, softball and some swimming programs.

"We want to provide them services and we don't want to leave them out, but that will happen if they choose not to pay," Bailey said.

Bailey said a non-resident fee for recreational programs is not being considered because control and administration of the recreation programs is not done on an even basis. He said the cities should fund the programs so that those who cannot afford it can still participate.

"We feel like Alpine and Highland should pay for it out of their budgets just like everybody else does," Bailey said.

Instead of paying the fees, Alpine and Highland have considered hiring a person to direct their own programs. Bailey said that would be acceptable to American Fork and the city would even supply the person with an office.

Alpine and Highland officials said they will continue to negotiate with American Fork and a decision will have to be made this week before the two cities adopt their final budgets.

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(ADDITIONAL INFORMATION)

Library bill

Amounts requested of Alpine and Highland by American Fork for library and recreation use:

Highland - $17,631 (library) and $8,200 (recreation)

Alpine - $9,795 and $5,600

Alternatives would be $60 annual library non-resident fee and elimination from several youth recreation programs.