The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending another $68,500 to prevent cuts to hours and programs at the Montecito, Vandenberg Village and Orcutt branches.

Nine branch libraries had a cumulative operating deficit of $415,000 as of the April budget workshops. The county dedicated more funding and also pledged matching funds for contributions by cities and Friends of the Library groups.

Santa Barbara County’s 2019-20 budget includes $3,786,800 for libraries, with base funding of $7.80 per capita, and the budget revision approved Tuesday will come from cannabis tax revenues.

Thousands of dollars came in, but the effort was “just not raising as much money in the private sector as we thought,” Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said.

Pat Saley, president of the Friends of the Montecito Library, said the group already had given $125,000 for library operations and couldn’t provide more for the county match.

Santa Barbara County funding represents 39 percent of that branch’s funding, while it makes up more than 80 percent of the budget for the Vandenberg Village and Orcutt branches.

The Orcutt branch has one of the largest service areas but as an unincorporated area has no city to contribute funding, noted Judith Dale, a member of the county’s Library Advisory Board.

It’s also challenged by paying rent for its building, an expense that many other branches don’t have since they use city or county buildings, she added.

Advisory groups have been discussing funding changes to the county library system for years, and several branches have changed management in efforts to cut costs. The Goleta Valley Library went independent last year and took over management of the Buellton, Solvang, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez branches.  

Santa Barbara County needs to find a library funding model that is more fair and equitable, Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said.

“They have responded to our call,” she said of cities and Friends groups contributing more funding.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Library funding chart

The Santa Barbara County supervisors on Tuesday contributed additional funding to branch libraries in Montecito, Vandenberg Village and Orcutt. (Santa Barbara County photo)