The Electric article (here) covering the Great Falls Public Library levy which
the City Commission voted to put on the ballot in June, is far from
balanced and fair and shows an obvious lack of research.
I was at that commission meeting and I wish to set the record straight
and give my perspective. The Electric quotes are italicized with
quotation marks, followed by my responses in plain text.
The Devil’s in the Details
“The proposed special election would cost about $48,000, according to
city staff, and the library will use the library fund to pay that expense.”
Conveniently left out of the article is the fact that the library fund is
taxpayer dollars. Library Director McIntyre’s repeated claims “the
library would be paying for it” from the library fund were a bit
disingenuous, as she wasn’t forthcoming when questioned about the
origins of the library fund by Commissioners Hinebauch and Tryon.
Commissioner Tryon finally asked Melissa Kinzler, City Finance
Director, who confirmed it is our taxpayer dollars.
“Initially, library staff planned to put the library levy question on the
May school ballot, but legal staff determined that wasn’t an option under
City legal staff, both of whom were in attendance at the commission
meeting, didn’t speak up to confirm this with any type of legal citation.
I’ve since seen the city attorney’s legal determination. But before that, I
had called the MT Secretary of State/Elections and they stated that the
library levy could be added to the May ballot. Conflicting information
but at this point it doesn’t matter. The city commission has voted to put
the library levy to the people in June.
“It would have cost the city roughly the same amount to put the question
on the May ballot and the election cost for the city will likely be similar
in November, but that will include the mayor and commission election
and potentially the public safety levy.”
I gotta wonder why The Electric revisits the May ballot toward the end
when earlier in the article, it states city staff claims the May ballot isn’t
even an option under state law. But if the library levy would or could
have been added to the May ballot, the cost for that May election would
not be the same as in November. It would have been split between the
city and the school district, resulting in a cost savings for both,
according to the Cascade County Elections Office, whom I spoke with
on February 22.
It’s all about the Benjamins
“She said the library would probably go down to being open five days a
week and below the minimum of 50 operating hours per week required
by the Montana State Library standards and would result in a loss of
$30,000 of state funding.”
$1.5 million in additional taxes to preserve $30,000 in state funding
doesn’t sound like a good deal for the taxpayers.
“Without the levy, the library is projecting a $120,000 shortfall for the
next fiscal year, which begins July 1. In that case, McIntyre said they’d
have to cut staff, hours and services.”
If the shortfall is $120,000 why is the library asking for $1.5 million?
This obviously is not a levy to save a library in dire straits, as McIntyre
seems to want us to believe when she speaks. A shortfall of $120,000 is
not $1.5 million.
The following bullet points in the article show a dramatic expansion of
the library’s hours and function:
“If passed, the levy would, according to staff:
• expand library hours to be open seven days a week
• expand Bookmobile services to six days a week providing more
services to daycares, schools and seniors
• expand youth services programs including early literacy outreach,
school age programming, and college and life preparedness for
• provide more lifelong learning opportunities including expanded
collections, electronic resources and adult and senior programing
• restart and expand outreach services including the homebound
McIntyre doesn’t just want to solve a shortfall—she wants to build an
Also, why did the article fail to mention the impact of the levy on
property taxes? The increased in taxes for a $100,000 property valuation
is $20.25 and $40.50 for $200,000 valuation.
Down the rabbit hole
I would opine that many of us in this city are opposed to the ever-increasing woke policies and practices of the Great Falls Public Library. We remember a library that was not political, but sadly, that library is gone.
“McIntyre said the library has not hosted a drag queen story hour nor do
they have plans to do so.”
Yes, she did say that and it is a bald-faced lie. The Great Falls Public
Library did indeed host a drag queen story hour, on June 12, 2021. The
library removed the YouTube video but here is the link from their Facebook page as well as screen shot proof:
“One of the things included in the proposed levy that has some
opponents upset is a mental health counselor.”
The actual proposal indicates hiring a social worker, not a mental health
counselor. There’s a huge difference. Either way, this is not a normal and
traditional function of a library. But the American Library Association,
of which the Great Falls Public Library is a member, has initiated a
nationwide push for social workers in libraries, likely in an effort to
remain relevant in a time when information and resources are readily
available by computer in the comfort of our homes.
“McIntyre said there’s a process for patrons to submit concerns over
materials in the library collection that are reviewed by staff and if
needed, the library board. She said in her nearly 18 years working at the
library, no complaints had risen to the library board level and they’d
had maybe five complaints submitted overall.”
I would be willing to bet most folks in Great Falls haven’t searched the
library for concerning materials nor are they aware of a process to
request review of them. So McIntyre’s insistence that complaints are rare
doesn’t prove anything.
My comments at the meeting included two books I had concerns with,
Gender Queer and This Book is Gay. McIntyre claimed Gender Queer
was in the adult section, but a search of the GFPL online catalog reveals
it is classified as “comic book.”
She claimed to not know whether This Book is Gay in the library, but a
quick search of the online catalog reveals it is there and is classified as a
My concerns aren’t based on the LGBTQ theme. I’m concerned about
any explicit sexual content that is accessible to children in the library. If
anyone questions the inappropriateness of these books for children, I
would direct them to these links, which include excerpts from the books.
“Some of those who spoke in opposition were active last year in
claiming that local elections had been fraudulent, despite no evidence of
those claims locally, and advocated for eliminating mail ballots and
counting all ballots by hand.”
How is this relevant to the library levy? It isn’t. It is a patronizing,
condescending example of faulty logic and insinuation—and certainly