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Goleta Starts Process to Take Over City’s Library from Santa Barbara Management

City Council's approval of ordinance establishing a municipal library is first step in the long process, but doesn't commit the city to the transfer

Goleta’s City Council took the first step Tuesday to transfer the library at 500 North Fairview Ave. to city control.
Goleta’s City Council took the first step Tuesday to transfer the library at 500 North Fairview Ave. to city control.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk file photo)

Goleta took its first step Tuesday to transfer its branch library from the Santa Barbara system to city control.

City Hall has been eager to refashion the Goleta Valley Branch Public Library into a municipal library. The City Council approved an ordinance establishing a municipal library and creating a library board of trustees, but the move doesn’t commit the city to moving forward with the transfer process.

Like other public libraries in the county, most of which are also administered by the Santa Barbara library system, Goleta’s is facing significant funding issues. City officials estimated that with current spending and revenues, operating reserves would be fully depleted in the next two years.

For the current fiscal year, the library is facing an operating deficit over $370,000. That number is estimated to be about $196,000 if Goleta were to assume control and the current funding, revenue and expenditure numbers stayed the same.

Decreased county funding — a distinct possibility, deputy city manager Kathleen Trepa said — could boost the operating deficit under Goleta to as high as $323,000.

Including an 18-percent administrative fee Santa Barbara will likely soon charge to operate the library — double the current fee, Trepa noted — the facility’s expenditures total $1.63 million.

Over half the library’s funding comes from the county, which allocates its money based on the number of people believed to be served by the library. Another third comes from Measure L, a 1990 parcel tax.

In October, the council voted on a one-time increase in city funding for the library, directed Santa Barbara to maintain the current 55 hours of service a week, and requested that the two cities work to hire a children’s librarian — a vacant position Goletans have been pressing officials to fill.

Four months before that, the Goleta City Council decided not to join the county in placing concurrent parcel tax measures on the ballot related to library funding.

The city’s next step is to hold budget hearings and negotiate county funding; apply for membership into the Black Gold Cooperative Library System, which provides services to Central Coast libraries; and apply for recognition with the California Library Services Board.

Expiring this summer is Santa Barbara’s month-to-month agreement to operate the Goleta Library, at 500 North Fairview Ave. Goleta owns the physical facility and collections, and the city is looking to extend the operating agreement to June 30, 2018.

The entire takeover process is expected to culminate in the spring or summer of next year. 

Initiating the process “shows the rest of the community, the county and the city that we are serious, we are supportive,” said Councilman Michael Bennett, who voted to approve the ordinance to establish a municipal library, as did Mayor Paula Perotte and Councilman Stuart Kasdin.

“But we need to investigate and find out a whole lot more information before the ultimate decision can be made if this is the direction we’re ultimately going to go,” he added.

Though all five council members agreed the city should take over the library, the moving parts and a complex — and increasingly red — funding situation gave councilmen Roger Aceves and Kyle Richards pause.

“There are so many things that still need to be investigated,” said Aceves, who argued that answers to funding questions — like whether the county will change its library per-capita funding model — should be nailed down before moving forward.

“Right now, our people are concerned that we’re not maintaining our roadways — look at the potholes,” he said. “There’s got to be a priority, and we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to pay for it.”

Bennett said there was no longer a point in putting off the takeover process any longer.

“At the end of the day, if we do nothing, we will have no governance of the library, we will be incredibly limited,” he said. “We’re going to be paying a heck of a lot more money because there is a deficit which appears to be much larger if we do nothing.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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