Monday, August 6, 2012

Council Meeting Tonight

Since I can't be at the meeting tonight, I have prepared written arguments on three of the items on the agenda and sent them to the council. The items that I discuss below are: 13: The approval of a lease of automated checkout equipment from the LA County Library at the rate of $1 a year; 17: a resolution by the city stating that despite the relaxing of the Brown Act rules by the state as a cost-saving measure, the city will continue to conform to ALL requirements of the original act; and 20: The placing on the ballot of a $38 per land parcel special library tax.

If you can make the meeting this evening, PLEASE go. However, it looks like it will be a long one that may stretch late into the evening.

Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers, 

Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend this evening’s council meeting. However, I would like to weigh in on the following items: 

Item 13: I’m very much in favor of accepting the County Library’s generous lease of equipment for our library. 

Item 17: I am very pleased that the city is taking this step to ensure the continued adherence to all the provisions of the Brown Act. I had heard some concern in the community that the relaxing of these rules might lead to items getting “snuck” onto agendas both for the closed session meetings and the open meetings. It is important that the public have at the very least the protections currently afforded by the Brown Act. 

Item 20: As I stated at last Monday’s meeting, the idea of a parcel tax to help in the funding of the library is needed! I strongly urge the council to place on the ballot this item. However, we are presented with four options. 
      First, whether or not to have a non-supplanting of library funding clause. The idea that came out of the library board of trustees was that they did not want to see the special library tax as completely eliminating the funding from the city. The city has funded the library for over 100 years and they wanted to see that funding continue. The idea of a special library tax was NOT to become the sole funding for the library, but to take SOME of the burden off of the city’s general fund. This is a common requirement in tax measures to ensure funding isn’t shifted. The funding level that the new tax would raise would NOT be adequate to maintain our library at a reasonable level. So I urge you to include some language that would protect library funding into the future. If you don’t like the 38 hour level of service, then make it a guarantee of 30 hours. That would be 6 hours a day for 5 days a week. Or even make it this year’s funding level. But please include a level of funding that will ensure that the library will be operable for the citizens in the future. 

     Secondly, the idea of a “sunset” to the parcel tax. With the attitude of staff’s recommendation that the city can’t contribute any more to the library than what would come with a new tax, do we really think that in 7 or 10 years that the situation will be any different? If the tax were to suddenly go away, where would the additional general fund funds come from? Police? Fire? Street Maintenance? Parks? The library is not a fixed length project. It should and will continue into the far future, so “sunsetting” the tax would only mean that at the end of the current tax, we’d be back asking the voters to again impose a special tax. Voters hate it when you do that. I really believe that this is the problem with the way that the schools present tax measures. I can’t tell you the number of people who complain, “every year they’re back asking for more.” Often it’s not really MORE, it’s asking to reapprove the same things we’ve already expressed as a priority. The Library Board discussed this issue at length and with only one negative vote decided not to put such a clause into their request. Please do not “sunset” our library funding. 

     Thank you so very much for allowing me to express my opinions on these important matters. 

John L. Clifford

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like we're back to 1 AM meetings.