Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Furlough in Santa Cruz; Hours Cut in San Anselmo

"To help balance the $10.7 million budget, California's Santa Cruz Public Library's nine-member oversight board approved closing the library April 6–10. . . .Councilors in the cash-poor California town of San Anselmo agreed to eliminate Monday hours, to have begun March 1."

My Bias

I don't think the State should be taking funds from local governments. I work at local libraries which may soon have to reduce staff, hours, and funds spent on materials. There is no upside to this in terms of public service.

Counties Attempt to Save Tax Dollars

"After being spurned by Gov. Arnold Schwar-zenegger and lawmakers Wed-nesday, counties battling another big cut in funds for basic services said they will soon have enough petitions to take their plight to the ultimate authority -- voters. . . .If lawmakers curtail local funding anyway, the measure would require the state to reimburse local governments for the lost money. . . .The initiative effort follows a decade of revenue diversions from local govern-ments. Proponents said the cash-strapped state government has siphoned more than $40 billion -- money that pays for everything from public safety programs to libraries.

Alameda County alone has lost more than $1.9 billion in the past 10 years, including $230 million this year. Officials have laid off staff, eliminated positions and cut programs as a result."

Berkeley Libraries to Cut Staff and Hours

"Facing a record budget shortfall for the 2005 fiscal year, trustees of the Berkeley Public Library reluctantly approved yesterday a cost-saving proposal that would lay off 16 employees and reduce operating hours at all five of Berkeley’s public libraries.

The plan to make up the library system’s $1.2 million deficit, set to take effect in July, is designed to spare social services the library system provides for the Berkeley community, such as adult literacy and child education programs.

But the proposal also calls for $300,000 in cuts to the library’s materials budget, which is reserved for the purchase of new books, magazines, videos, music and other publications."

Lost Local Tax Dollars

From an opinion piece by Mike Rotkin, vice mayor of Santa Cruz and a member of the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz Public Library.
". . .Since 1992, the state has transferred an astounding $268,405,611 of local property-tax money away from these local public services in Santa Cruz County. During this period, the public libraries in our county sent more than $14 million into state coffers.

In the current year alone, the County Library Fund will send $1,636,664 to Sacramento, of which $1,283,963 belonged to the Santa Cruz Libraries (the remainder was transferred from the Watsonville Library). In addition to these funds, the governor now proposes to take another $418,000 from county libraries in north and south Santa Cruz County. The Santa Cruz Public Library’s share of the total estimated take of $418,000 is 78.45 percent (population-based formula), or $327,921.

For a library that is already reeling from shortfalls due to declining sales-tax revenues, this is not good news. The only alternative will be unhappy choices between further cuts to open hours, reductions in the book budget, and/or eliminating special programs serving low-income, senior and rural populations. All of these choices involve laying off additional employees and reducing service to local residents.

These problems are not unique to Santa Cruz County. The big question is whether Californians will wake up and begin to challenge the shell game that has been going on in Sacramento. "

Local Taxpayers and Public Safety Protection Act

"The 2004 Local Taxpayers and Public Safety Protection Act would require a majority vote of the people before the state government would be allowed to take and use local government funds in the future." This has been endorsed by many local goverments and emergency service agencies throughout California.

Counties Try to Reduce Cuts

"Eager to avoid staggering losses, county leaders have been quietly meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's inner circle to craft a compromise that could temper a new state raid on local property taxes. . . .Cities, redevelopment agencies and special districts likely will protest because the proposal would take more money from them to cushion the blow on counties. . . .Meanwhile, cities and counties continue to collect signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot barring the state from raiding local revenues without voter permission. . . .While local governments are united behind the initiative, there are deep divisions over strategy in this year's budget battle. County supervisors tomorrow will consider endorsing a compromise that calls for counties, cities, special districts and redevelopment agencies to each absorb $200 million in cuts statewide during the next fiscal year only. Libraries would lose $16 million in state funding."

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