Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Official - Library Parcel Tax Measure on November Ballot

During the past two months a Library Resolution and Ordinance has been discussed at City Council meetings for putting a Library Parcel Tax on the November ballot. The purpose of the measure is to raise desperately needed funds to restore Library hours and services. On Wednesday, June 23rd, a final version of the measure was approved.

A similar measure appeared on the ballot last November, and was narrowly defeated (by approximately 30 votes).

What makes this measure different?
  • A Steering Committee of concerned citizens drafted this measure based on a thorough analysis of city and library finances. (Last year, the measure was drafted by City Staff.)
  • The amounts of the parcel tax have been reduced: from $96 to $90 for each parcel; and from $75 to $45 per unit for multiple units.
  • There will be no cost of living increases. The tax will remain at the $96 and $45 levels for 10 years.
  • An independent citizen's oversight committee is designated to annually audit how the tax monies are used.
  • The measure specifies the City augment the parcel tax with General Fund monies. 2.83% of the Total General Fund budget is to be allocated annually to the Library. (In FY 2010/11 dollars, that would amount to $420,000.)

The Steering Committee worked diligently, with City Administration and the City Council, to create a measure that responded to residents' suggestions and the fiscal realities of what it costs to restore Library hours and services. We applaud their hard work.


handy said...

$90 over ten years = $900. They took $3 ($45,000) from each of us to ask us to vote on a measure that would cost each of us $900!

Plus, PG City does get a share of it as they won't be ponying up as much as they are used to. 80% of that extra money would be going to city employee salaries.

Sounds more like smoke & mirrors to me, just like that 1% sales tax we are paying ($1M per year) that should have been for our library.

Pamela, Librarian said...

Dear handy,

Thank you for your comment and concern.

Let me clarify that the Steering Committee that drafted this measure was an independent group of Library supporters. Their goal was to draft a measure that would respond to concerns voiced by voters in 2009, AND raise approximately $600,000/per year for the Library.

Regarding the commitment for continued General Fund funding for the Library from the City. Please note, the 2.83% is a minimum amount. Future City Councils may allocate more when monies are available.

Without some type of designated funding, Library hours and services will continue to diminish. Pacific Grove is not unique in this respect. Libraries throughout California are facing substantial budget cuts.

For the past 30 years, there have been approximately 10 library related ballot measures each year in California.

The advantage of a "special tax", such as the proposed measure, is that it is a dedicated tax and may only be expended on the specified service, in this case the Library. A special tax requres two-thirds approval rate to pass.

The 1% sales tax, that was passed by PG residents, was a general tax. A general tax can be used to fund any type of city services. A general tax only requires a simple majority approval rate to pass.

Again, thank you for your concern.