YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :
Recent estimates of total revenue generated by 2006 Woodland Municipal Measure E (twelve-year, half-cent sales tax increment, for a variety of capital improvements) have been revised dramatically downward — and a major set of re-allocations was due to be on the City Council agenda for March 16.
However, City Manager Mark Deven explains that this item was pulled due to yet insufficient staff time being available to properly prepare it. He indicates that it will indeed appear on an upcoming agenda.
Deven made a presentation before the February 23, Joint Special Study Meeting of the City Council and Public Library Board of Trustees, distributing and reviewing a draft for this newly proposed Measure E spending plan, impelled by constraints of expecting $68 million — but likely receiving only $47 million (2006 – 2018) from this sales tax — designated through contemporary advisory measures for use in creating capital improvements for the community.
“The revised plan draft returns to the library a $3.8 million (8%) allocation as opposed to an original 2010 allocation of $1.57 million (3%), based upon an estimated $47, 050,099 total,” according to official minutes of this Joint Special Study Meeting.
____ Reallocation Crucial For Essential Library Expansion ____
The 21,000 square foot library (also, a 2000 square feet section remains unfinished for about twenty years) was initially provided with 8% of Measure E funds in 2006: 1% for exterior renovations and 7% for a then proposed 10,000 square foot expansion.
This dimension of planned library expansion is based upon — long obsolete policy language — in Woodland’s (2002) General Plan.
Since at least 2001, national library guidelines have determined that .75 – 1.0 square foot of space per capita is recommended for a library such as Woodland’s. Its General Plan, however, sets policy for the library service standard at only .5 square foot per capita.
In order to satisfy nationally recommended criteria (developed over a half-century of library experience) for serving 56,400 persons — the Woodland Public Library would need to at least double in size.
A 10,000 square foot library expansion project is clearly insufficient to provide the community with service standards that support the library’s mission.
7% (of $68 million) once combined with — now very slowly trickling — development fees to cause anticipation that construction of the – obviously inadequately sized — 10,000 square foot library expansion might perhaps have begun by 2011.
Then, the so-called Great Recession occurred.
____ Several Projects Excised From Measure E Funds ____
“Projects recommended for removal from allocation include the other community senior center, Sports Park, and civic center,” describes the Joint Meeting minutes.
This latter item, essentially a new city hall, was originally (informally) penciled into Measure E funding at 10%.
Debt service underwriting existing facilities within the new Woodland Community & Senior Center now consumes virtually its entire Measure E funding stream.
The second phase of the Sports Park will be indefinitely suspended.
Further details of this pending reallocation are unavailable for publication, due to its “draft” status.
____ Too Firmly Fixing One Funding Target Has Backfired? ___
Measure E formally specified that one recipient of its funds would have utter and complete (advisory) priority over all the others: road building and maintenance.
All other recipients: the community’s library, parks & recreation, the opera house, city hall, even a new community / senior center, were only informally provided allocations (although, the opera house was recently provided a specific amount to complete its — now also delayed — expansion project)..
Road building and maintenance, however, was — explicitly — assigned a 45% share — or $30,200,000 — whichever is greater.
This formal language in Measure E thus operates to effectively guarantee that: Whatever future economic conditions ensue — a full 45% of — 2006 revenue projections — is firmly locked up for roads at the very outset.
What this means in practical terms, as Deven agrees, is that the allocation rate for roads is now no longer just 45% — but rather is fast approaching 70%.
As the economy worsens — all other recipients of Measure E funds are increasingly squeezed and diminished (or eliminated).
That’s 70% of the entire Measure E funding stream — going for roads — while the Woodland Public Library can’t even find money to — finally — finish and operate 2000 square feet of very greatly needed space — left undone for twenty years.
Reasonableness in key public policy may feel a blemish (or even disfigurement) on this account.
Deven offers the following remedy: A four-fifths vote of the City Council will instantly correct this fiscal anomaly of Measure E language and policy.