YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland Public Library is the oldest operating (Andrew) Carnegie Library in California and about half of the size it should be in the modern era.

Formerly, a city utility tax helped fund prior (1980s-era) library renovation and maintenance, but this tax was not renewed, because of the emergence of local Measure E (2006-2018), a half-cent sales tax.

Library trustees of those days were persuaded to fully merge its fiscal interests with the city by not seeking to renew its former utility-tax funding, instead relying on Measure E.

The ~20,000 square foot library (of which, tellingly, a 2000 square foot section still remains unfinished for decades, finally due to be accomplished in 2017) 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, American Library Association Guidelines have determined that .75 – 1.0 square feet 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 this nationally recommended criteria (developed over a half-century of broad library experience) for serving 56,400 persons — and growing — the Woodland Public Library would need to at least double in size.

The previously planned, 10,000 square foot library expansion project is clearly insufficient to provide this community with service standards that support the library’s important missions, at the apex of local culture.

Woodland General Plan’s substandard /obsolete library-service goal (half a square foot per capita) must now be replaced with current national standards (three-quarters to one square foot per capita).

Funding for a 20,000 – 25,000 square foot library expansion must be raised, for credibility of the city’s new (2015-2035) General Plan.

Measure E expires in June of 2018 (with funding through September).

General fund tax measures (even linked to advisory measures for political (not legal) purposes) must appear on a city council election ballot. City elections have shifted to November; so, 2016 is the last election to occur before expiration of Measure E.

Renewing Measure E would annually bring ~$4.5 million to city coffers, but most of this money is intended for the city’s roadway improvement program and city debt tied to its new community – sports park complex.

Already lined up behind those key fiscal needs are several public safety goals, which always tend to trump library goals. The library won’t receive much of anything from a simply renewed Measure E, making a farce of properly updating relevant general plan standards.

Is Woodland to have Cadillac roads, alongside a sorely limping library?

Thus – Measure E must be revised, not simply renewed, this time establishing a three-quarter cent tax, combining with the existing quarter-cent tax (Measure J) to make a full cent of sales tax available for city purposes.

That extra quarter-cent of sales tax would annually garner ~$2.25 million, of which $1.25 million should be devoted by advisory commitment to the library, raising $15 million in total (over twelve years) for its proper expansion.

About $1 million per year would also become available to best resolve intense squabbling over the fringe of inadequate half-cent tax revenue.

Measure J (similarly with other local tax measures) was adopted by a 68.6% majority of the local (2014) electorate.

A revised Measure E, setting a three-quarter cent sales tax, would easily be adopted at a threshold of 50% plus one vote.

On balance, Woodland Public Library is as important and popular as the local road program, bonded debt service and public safety.

Woodland City Council must recognize and support library service to local cultural safety (and public / community welfare), by revising both its new General Plan and Measure E for needed satisfaction of library interests.

 

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