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Fine Rates to Increase at County Library System

They will go into effect Feb. 4.

The Somerset County Library System is raising its rates for fines, according to a release from the organization.

The changes in fees and fines were adopted Jan. 9, and will be effective Feb. 4 at all 10 branches.

Basically, overdue fines will increase from 10 cents per day to 20 cents per day.

"We raised fines for the first time in nearly 30 years primarily to increase revenues during a time of rising costs and consistently flat budgets," said SCLS director Brian Auger in a release about the change.

The Somerset County Library System has branches in Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Hillsborough, Manville, North Plainfield, Peapack & Gladstone, Somerville, Warren, Watchung and at the Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill.

jerseyjoed January 29, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Another example of Orwellian "doublespeak". Taxes are "capped" at 2%, so we double fees instead of exceeding the "cap".
Mark January 30, 2013 at 12:10 AM
How about electronic fines??? Are DVD's staying at 1.00 a day. I hope this doesn't affect people using the system. Doubling seems steep and unfair. Should be other ways to raise revenue- charging for computer internet usage????
spokey January 30, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Not Really. Taxes are forced confiscation of your property. Library fines are not. You have several options to avoid paying the library. 1 - Don't borrow anything. You can still use the library. Just don't take anything out. Read the book while you are there. 2 - Don't keep the item longer than you are supposed to. Bring the thing back on time. It's your choice. You can use the library to your hearts content for 'free'. Quite different than muni taxes.
jerseyjoed January 31, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Money paid to the government is TAX. If you don't see that.... they gottcha,
S.G. January 31, 2013 at 01:59 AM
This is not a tax. It is a fine for not returning an item that you borrowed from the library...as you agreed when you borrowed the item. It's sort of a contract between you and the library to which you agree when you get your library card. Also, the fine encourages patrons to return items on time so that others may borrow them.
jerseyjoed January 31, 2013 at 10:26 PM
"You can use the library to your hearts content for 'free'. Quite different than muni taxes." Not quite so Spokey, in my town the LIBRARY TAX is 4.5 cents per hundred. That's about $200 a year for me. Hardly free. "This is not a tax. It is a fine for not returning an item that you borrowed from the library". Maybe so S.G. but... "We raised fines for the first time in nearly 30 years primarily to increase revenues during a time of rising costs and consistently flat budgets," said SCLS director Brian Auge. They GOTCHA..
spokey February 01, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Of course. That's why free is in quotes. You pay library taxes regardless of whether you use the library or not. So you pay for having the library whether you use it or not. But the usage is free and I stand by: You can use the library to your hearts content for 'free'. Don't know where you live, but here in Hillsborough we don't pay the town any library taxes. We are part of the county system. So we do pay taxes to the county to provide library services (again whether we use them or not). I have asked the employees in the local Hillsborough library and have been told that they are county employees. I don't know about the facilities. Perhaps I am paying some taxes to support that but that isn't listed in my tax statement. But I'm also free to use the facilities of towns who are in the county system.
S.G. February 01, 2013 at 10:56 PM
jersey, this is not a "gotcha" ["used to indicate that somebody has been successfully tricked or caught out in some way"]. It is a fine...you know it is there. If you return an item on time, per your agreement, there is no fine. Look at it another way. You borrow a $20 library book and you lose it. You pay the libray for the book you lost. Is that a fine..a tax..or? While the Somerset County Library Tax [again, not a gotcha...listed right on your tax bill] may pay for basic books, interlibrary loan transportation, the website, and salaries, the fines allow for many of the extras that library patrons enjoy. The public library is one of the best buys you'll ever find if you are smart enough to take advantage of their services.
S.G. February 01, 2013 at 11:03 PM
The library already has book sales, a Friends of the Library group, accepts monetary contributions (look at the names on the wall as you enter), and you may remember the library in your will. Over the years I have donated specific books in memory of loved ones, such as a quilting book and a book about living with diabetes for a close family member.
BillBalls February 02, 2013 at 02:59 PM
The usage of the word “free” is a misnomer in terms of a Somerset County Library, and most other public libraries. This article would be more accurate to read; Library services provided at no user charge by the generous taxpayers of Somerset County.
S.G. February 02, 2013 at 03:20 PM
During a past discussion about library use we added up the approximate worth of the library items that just two members of our family used - books, magazines, research, CDs, DVDs, online language instruction, movies, programs, etc. - and it came to thousands more than we paid in County Library taxes. It appears that the SCLS is the generous one. That's not even counting that having an outstanding library system makes your house worth more if you decide to sell. And the public library is almost the only service that every single person can use.
spokey February 02, 2013 at 04:20 PM
BillBalls; I would say that if you are going to parse the word 'free' so precisely that we might as well get rid of the word. I can't think of a single thing that is free. Even the air you breath is costing someone money to clean up the pollution. I guess walking down the road isn't free either as it had to be built and that cost someone money. I think pretty much everyone understands that the library is being paid for by someone (i.e. taxpayers). So I think that stating that one can use the library for free comes with that context and everyone understands that. I also know that way back when, we didn't have that library (I'm talking early 60s?) and had to pay to use the Somerville library as we weren't Somerville residents. I don't know if non-Somerset people can pay and use this library system. But if they can, I would say that is also within the context of the discussion and it is still fair to use the word 'free'. After all, isn't the purpose of written or spoken words to communicate effectively? I would submit to you that using the word 'free' was effective communication within the context of this discussion. Of course if we were at a county budget meeting, 'free' would not be accurate.
S.G. February 02, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Spokey, persons who do not live in the area covered by the SCLS and/or do not qualify for a free library card may purchase a membership for $185.00. http://www.somerset.lib.nj.us/new/getacard.html Additionally, they now have a museum passes program that we have not yet used... http://www.somerset.lib.nj.us/museumpass.htm
BillBalls February 02, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Are you saying the Library is financed by deficit spending? Also, perchance 25 or 30 years ago a good library may have added value to your house. Today? I think not. In fact it could be reasoned given that high taxes devalue a house, a county’s or town’s library tax may actually reduce a home’s value.
jerseyjoed February 03, 2013 at 01:31 AM
The purpose of my original post was to point out the fallacy of the 2% tax cap. Whatever the government can't fit into the 2% they can make up in fees that can be arbitrarily raised for any purpose. I choose to call it a tax that should be included in the 2%. I have the highest respect for the library system. However, S.G. you bring up a VERY interesting issue. If you are correct that someone who does not otherwise qualify for the SCLS can purchase a membership for $185, then I, and I'm sure quite a few more people who DO qualify, pay more. Interesting...

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