Surge of out-of-towners at library leads League City to start charging $50 a year for access

Pooja Lodhia Image
Friday, March 1, 2024
Want to use League City library but aren't from there? That'll be $50
League City's Helen Hall Library will start charging non-city and Galveston County residents $50 a year to access the facility.

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Usually, when you hear the words "public library," you think it is free and open to the entire public.

But that's no longer the case in League City, where non-residents will now be charged to use the city's Helen Hall Library.

"Starting March 4, we will have staff at the entrance so people will have to present their library card to come on in," Meredith Layton, the interim city librarian, explained.

People who want to come to the library and don't live in League City or Galveston County now must pay $50 a year per household because, according to the mayor, about 35% of people who currently use this library live outside the city and county.

They mainly come from the southern part of Harris County, specifically Webster, which doesn't have a library.

According to the U.S. Census, the median income in Webster is about half of what it is in League City.

"The citizens of League City pay for the library services, and we talk about how crowded it is. When are we going to need a new library? And (we) felt that there should be some sort of equitable 'How do you pay for those services if you don't live in League City,'" John Baumgartner, the city manager of League City, said.

It's not just libraries.

Last month, city officials doubled fees for non-League City residents who want to use city parks.

"Kids in other communities come here to use it," Baumgartner said. "That's great if we have room and that they pay their fair share."

City council members are also in initial talks to change how fire services and developer accidents are paid for.

The initial plan is to start charging individual insurance companies so that payments don't come from the city's general fund.

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