The Pomona, CA Public Library is cutting back “to concentrate on basic core service,” Library Director Bruce Guter said, due to a severe budget crunch.
This is, however, still a step up from the original proposal, to completely close the library for a year for lack of funds, according to the Contra Costa Times.
According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, The Pomona City Council told city administrators to find a way to avoid the closure and they came up with about $400,000 by cutting street repaving and sidewalk repair. However that’s a huge shortfall from the $1.6 million current budget—which still is only enough to run the library 26 hours a week.
As a result, Guter proposed a plan to lay off most employees, including himself, and run the library on a smaller staff of hourly employees.
Guter walked the space with a planner and several library directors from the region to find places to cut; a final report from the planner will be used to create a plan for library services that could be presented to city leaders later this month. Among the ideas were to consolidate library services on the main floor and combine multiple service points into a single universal desk.
Councilwoman Paula Lantz has been leading weekly meetings to brainstorm ideas to raise money, and has proposed a parcel tax, costing about homeowners about $38 per year, to fund the library on the November ballot. However the council has delayed making a decision one way or the other: originally scheduled for July 30, the proposed library tax will come back to council members for a vote on Monday, according to The Daily Bulletin. That’s down to the wire: City Council members have until Aug. 6 to decide to place a measure on the ballot, the Times quoted Pamela Perkins, senior deputy city clerk, as saying. (The City Clerk’s Office has until Aug. 10 to submit the necessary paperwork to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.)
Council members asked the City Attorney’s Office to determine whether it’s possible to add a sunset clause and language addressing the city’s commitment to provide general fund dollars for the library.
Guter told LJ that once the Council meets, “The picture will become clearer soon.”
If it is placed on the ballot, the tax requires a two-thirds approval from voters, and that may be tough to get given the number of other taxes on the ballot, including a $61 fire tax, one on hotel stays, one on property transactions, two state tax measures and an L.A. County storm drain tax, plus a possible extension of the Measure R transit tax.
Even if the tax is placed on the ballot and passes, Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jared it would raise $944,000, not the $3 million it would take to put the library back on a full schedule and buy books.
The library is also seeking out sources of funding beyond tax revenue. Efforts are under way to revive the Pomona Public Library Foundation by seeking out new directors, according to the Times. The last meeting of the board took place in January 2007, said Guter. In the meantime, donations can also be made to the Friends of Pomona Public Library. Local community members are raising support and awareness via the aptly named Don’t Close the Pomona Library page on Facebook.
Besides helping with brainstorming, neighboring libraries are offering more concrete help: The head of the County of Los Angeles Public Library has offered to provide staff to help reconfigure the library, plus a self check-out machine, and California State Librarian Stacey Aldrich says her office will help find an expert to help Pomona develop a community vision for the library and provide a grant to pay for it.