Tamahere residents have been left frustrated and angry as the Waikato District Council's agreement to allow its residents to use Hamilton City Council libraries is about to end, cutting them off from the libraries closest to where they live.
A solution may be in sight before the September cut off as WDC Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech is working with the HCC to return to the original arrangement in the interim.
Last week, Tamahere residents were informed that they would lose free use of Hamilton libraries, despite living closer to HCC's Hillcrest library than WDC's Cambridge.
The news sparked outrage on the local Tamahere community forum. The forum creator Philippa Stevenson. said that they are paying rates a district service they will not have.
"Those who can afford it will have to pay twice to keep using the Hamilton libraries.
"We'll pay in our rates for a district service we don't want and have to pay again to continue access to the city library we didn't want to lose in the first place," said Ms Stevenson.
"I want all Waikato residents, city and rural, to have free access to all greater Waikato libraries. One card to rule them all. This debacle has highlighted that things are different elsewhere. For instance, residents of Porirua, Kāpiti, Wellington and Hutt Valley councils all use each others libraries at no cost."
Waikato District Council decided to end its contract with Hamilton City Council, as it was costing $300,000 a year for only 3530 active users in the Waikato district.
Mr Bech said that after the public backlash a number of options are being looked at to ease the tension for Waikato library users, including a one-library card.
"Waikato District council is very supportive of that. If we can achieve this it would mean any library user could go to any council-run library in the wider Waikato and borrow books so not only Hamilton City Council but also if holidaying in Raglan or Waihi," Mr Bech said.
"I have also committed to connect with my HCC counterparts to also explore on what basis we could return to an arrangement with them.
Ms Stevenson said the subject received the largest number of submissions than any other topic, with 5000 submissions.
She said Tamahere and Matangi residents made lengthy submissions about how they use and value access to the nearby Hamilton libraries. They included families who home school, and families whose children attend Hillcrest High School and frequently use the Hillcrest library, one minute from their school."
Ms Stevenson said that the situation should have never had came to this, citing that there are more library members in the district, than those who voted for any councillor in the last election.
"Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech was elected by just 817 voters. So, councillors who got elected by far fewer voters than library members are making decisions about what services residents can and can't have. That seems very undemocratic," Ms Stephenson
Short term, key affected users and active members of the HCC library who live in areas most affected have been offered a voucher for the cost of one individual membership per household for the year. If a deal is not struck with HCC by then, it would cost Tamahere residents $80 a year to use the Hamilton libraries.
Hamilton City Council said there have been no further discussions with WDC on the libraries situation.