Monday, May 21 , 2018, 9:51 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Advice

Goleta Exploring Special Tax Ballot Measure to Fund City Library

City Council supports moving forward with plans in the face of growing library deficit and capital improvement needs

Goleta is pursuing a special tax ballot measure for November 2016 to provide more funding for the city’s library.
Goleta is pursuing a special tax ballot measure for November 2016 to provide more funding for the city’s library.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

The Goleta Valley Library has been financially struggling in recent years, and city voters may be asked next fall to approve a special tax measure to increase funding. 

Goleta City Council members on Tuesday unanimously voted to send a letter asking Santa Barbara County officials to weigh in on concurrent ballot measures for next fall, one that would fund the Goleta Valley Library and another that would fund libraries in unincorporated county areas.

They also committed, at least in concept, to commit more of the city’s general fund to the library. How much will be determined during their budget process in the coming months.

So far, attempts to balance the library budget by reducing staff, operating hours and other items have been unsuccessful. The library is currently facing a deficit of more than $200,000, which could grow to over $500,000 by 2019.

In addition, more than $1 million in capital improvements are needed over the next 20 years and could lead to higher costs if deferred.

The Goleta Valley Library is already funded by Measure L monies, a special tax that funds services at the library. Voters in county service area three, the Goleta Valley, approved the measure in June 1990. 

After the city’s incorporation, the city became the successor and assumed ownership of the library.

However, Measure L funding has not proved enough to sustain the library, and Goleta contributes less from its general fund to its library than other places, said Corinne Horowitz, president of the Friends of the Goleta Library

Speaking during the meeting, Horowitz said less than 10 percent of the library’s budget comes from general fund in Goleta, contrasting with Santa Barbara, which contributes 64 percent of the library budget from the general fund.

In July, Goleta’s council members got an update on the library, and a study found that the current service levels are unsustainable without significant increases in funding.

Council directed staff to explore options with the County of Santa Barbara to pursue concurrent special tax ballot measures for the November 2016 ballot.

The possibility of Goleta making a larger general fund contribution was also suggested.

In addition to running alongside a county measure, the city’s letter to the county states that the city would foot the bill for tax analysis, public polling and public information, which could be as much as $87,500. 

Discussion on the council dais quickly moved from the library to bitterness about the revenue neutrality act with the county.

That’s the agreement between the two agencies that requires the City of Goleta to give half of its property taxes and a significant portion of sales tax revenues to the county forever, which was a condition for Goleta incorporating in 2002.

Councilman Roger Aceves took umbrage at the county’s suggestion that the city doesn’t contribute from its general fund.

“Take it from the $105 million you already take from us,” Aceves quipped.

Council member Tony Vallejo agreed.

“They’re telling us our residents are paying enough,” he said. “We have a tight budget because we’re stuck with this revenue neutrality agreement and they’re telling us, ‘Give us more money.’”

Mayor Paula Perotte said she shared their frustration but that the library must come first.

“I feel like we’re almost holding our children hostage… This is about them,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >