(Photo by Jerry Holt/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on why he wants to eliminate library late fees

"We want children whose parents can't afford a $12 late fee to be able to use the libraries."

September 05, 2018 - 3:42 pm

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter recently proposed eliminating library late fees as part of the city budget. The plan, if approved by the City Council, would forgive more than $25 million in total fees dating back to 2009. 

Carter joined WCCO Radio's Blois Olson on Wento discuss the idea. 

"We want more people to use the libraries and not less. We want children whose parents can't afford a $12 late fee to be able to use the libraries and there's really no study or research that shows that late fees are really effective at increasing the amount of people who turn in their books on time," he explained.  

Carter said there are over 50,000 library cards in St. Paul that are currently inactivated because of late fees. He hopes that many of those people would return to use the libraries if his proposal is approved.  

"We have families in our city who are paying property taxes, who are voting or members of our community. So we're locked out of our library because they can't afford to spend, you know.. a $15 late fees would change their decisions about what they can feed their family for dinner tonight. That's not acceptable and it's not part of the city we're building, he said. 

When Olson asked Carter if he would apply the same philosophy to other city fees, like parking tickets, Carter said that he favors a "shift" away from penalizing people toward encouraging more positive outcomes. 

"I think we need to shift from a focus on thinking about penalizing after the fact to setting people up for success," Carter said. "And so I would love to see us issuing fewer parking tickets and pure late fees and fewer of those kinds of penalty type of fees that just make life just a little bit more expensive by nickels and dimes for people who live in our community." 

Olson and Carter also discussed minimum wage and road improvements. Listen to the entire interview here: