Woodland Public Library avoided becoming, by testimony of its Board of Trustees President, Alain Traig — “doomed to be a substandard library for decade” — due to a Measure E reallocation (City manager preferred) option before the City Council on December 7 to significantly reduce such funding to the Library (-  City Manager Proposes Nixing Library Expansion; Lavish Roadway Program Steamrolls Civic Culture  -).

Early in 2010, updated projections of Measure E (sales tax) revenue divulged that only about $48 million would eventually be collected, not about $68 million as originally expected — a reduction of about 30%.

This projection is based upon estimates of annual 2% growth of sales tax increment beginning in fiscal-year 2013, as general economic activity is anticipated to eventually recover from the Great Recession.

Reallocation of the Measure E fund was tentatively established by city staff and scheduled to appear on a city council agenda during March, 2010 (pre – June city council election) — but was delayed until September 22, at which time several council members expressed various concerns, further delaying action until December 7. 

Council direction obtained on September 22 resulted in a new city staff proposal that created a $2 million (4%) reserve fund and allocated $1.5 million (3%) for a sixth athletic field at the Sports Park, for a total of $3.5 million (7%) which must be balanced by reductions to other Measure E allocation categories — within an overall fiscal setting of trimming 30% from original allocations.

City manager, Mark Deven, proposed a preferred option of removing half of this $3.5 million ($1.75 million) from each of two accounts: Library Expansion ($4.2 million — 9% of the fund) and Roads ($30.2 million — 63% of the fund).

____  Inequities Soon Arise In Measure E Allocation  ____

Measure E’s Road category was by its (nonbinding) 2006 voter-advisory set at 45% of the total fund or $30.2 million — whichever is greater.

As the Great Recession intervened in 2007 and sales-tax revenues tumbled, Measure E’s Road category soon garnered a whopping 63% of the fund — combined with another 9% being quietly diverted outside the legitimate scope of its voter-advisories — to service general capital-improvement debt — amounting to about 70% of the total fund — thereby displacing various other prominent civic purposes.

Deven’s preferred option would have reduced library revenue to about $2.4 million (5%) — suggested to be used to finally complete (develop 2000 square feet of useable vacant space) the library expansion begun two decades ago. 

Trustees’ president Traig explained to the city council that adoption of this (preferred) option would preclude library expansion promised by the terms of Measure E voter-advisories, disabling it from meeting ever-increasing community demands for library services.

Basic national standards for libraries exist, based on more than 50 years of informed analysis and understanding, and Woodland Public Library is already “sorely deficient” in this regard, described Traig to the City Council.

Generally, the Library now has only about a third (1/3) of the space, materials and resources recommended for a city the size of Woodland by the American Library Association.

____  Operational Cost Concern Partially Causes Bad Option  ____

Traig also drew attention of city council members to the structural (fiscal) issue of not properly allocating capital funds for library expansion from Measure E, due to future uncertainty regarding the library’s operational resources — implying that by using such an unsound predication — urgently needed library expansion might never occur.

City council concern about operational aspects of library expansion under Measure E funding, expressed during its September 22 meeting, had caused city manager Deven to program his revised presentation along these lines; especially so, since no form of operational-cost analysis for library expansion currently exists within the municipal 10-Year Financing Plan. 

Neither is there any sensible (“engineered,” in fiscal parlance) relationship — it was admitted by city financial staff at this meeting — between the amount of money within the Measure E category for: “Library Expansion” and actual: library expansion. 

Traig described to city council members that back in 2006, he recalled that as much as $8 million was spoken about, as likely to be provided for library expansion under Measure E, within its campaign for ballot approval, rather than its original allocation of $4.7 million (only 7%, contrasted with 45% for the Road category).

In addition, former library services director, Sandra Briggs, has previously described that a renewable source of library funding existed through an increment of municipal utility tax, connected with the original library renovation and expansion program — which was (intentionally) allowed to expire — so as not to compete with Measure E on the June 2006 ballot.

Following the council meeting, Deven personally assured Traig that such an operational-cost analysis would now become duly included within municipal fiscal projections — so that current absence of this element of economic practice does not serve to improperly impede library expansion plans. 

Deven acted in this manner, in response to the city council unanimously voting to take the entire $3.5 million to cover a fund-reserve and the sixth playing field at the Sports Park — from the Road category of the Measure E reallocation budget — reconsidering its prior concern about such operational aspects of library affairs that inclined Deven’s preferred approach.

As a result, the Road category is diminished to 56% of Measure E money ($27 million), compared with 9% ($4.2 million) for Library Expansion.

The city council also established an annual review period regarding allocations, instead of the prior bi-annual review. 

Council member Martie Dote stated her desire that: “If Measure E fund increase, they not be used to increase the reserve fund but rather be used to make whole projects that have been decreased as a result of the downturn in revenues.”

____  Sports Park Now Complete — Library Long Incomplete  ____

Several city council members, led by mayor Art Pimentel, stated on September 22 that they were concerned about the fact that six playing fields were included in the — “original plan for the Sports Park” — while only five have yet been accomplished. 

On December 7, the council again recounted its ongoing determination to resolve this unfair predicament. 

Direction by council members promoted keen attention by Deven to tailoring the new Measure E reallocation to (perhaps partially) suit this expressed concern — through suggesting elimination of its library expansion capacity and recourse to finally completing the — twenty year-old — ‘original plan’ — for library expansion.

Failure to develop this 10% of library space has also for twenty years hampered full use of the library’s interior plaza and southwestern entry point.

Stark inequity clearly exists in the glaring fact that no council member has even suggested that this — twenty year-old, unfinished library expansion (indeed, of another generation) might possibly presume some priority for these civic (- indeed: General Fund -) resources. 

Only when threatened with no new expansion at all, does completion of the library’s previous expansion obtain any municipal attention or political traction.

Plainly, this peculiarly adverse dynamic of current municipal affairs is entirely unreasonable and unnecessary [- Yolo Sun opinion -].

Immediate dedication of $750,000 from the (2010-11-12) Road category of the Measure E fund — to troublingly overdue completion of the — ‘original plan’ — of Woodland Public Library — would seemingly much better serve Woodland’s diverse interests — than totally timely rounds of roadway improvement.

$750,000 is now annually available in the Road category and divertible for such a purpose with four city council votes.

Apparently, two years of such Road category diversion is the means by which the new (sixth) Sports Park athletic field will now become funded.

Priority for long-overdue accomplishment ot the original renovation of Woodland Public Library is a clear option for the City Council, leaving the Sports Park for a second and third period of such annual diversion.

Settling much more recent matters (of completion) involving the Sports Park — while glibly ignoring urgently needed redress of long-suffered civic catastrophes, such as (incompletion of) more than 10% of total Woodland Public Library space being lost for more than 20 years — appears as a traditional caliber of political performance regarding community inequities in Woodland. 

Such political performance should soon elevate itself in the public interest, recognizing and acting to resolve the enormous inequity of the newly adopted Measure E allocation, with regard to the vivid contrast between the Road category (56%) and extraneous debt service (9%) comprising about two-thirds of all Measure E funding; while, Woodland Public Library (9%) and key civic causes are unreasonably delayed or displaced (or perpetually overlooked, such as this long-available and distressingly vacant 2000 square feet of — urgently needed space — within the Library).  [- Yolo Sun opinion -]