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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 5:50 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Guadalupe Council Agrees To Continue Paying Library Rent — For Now

Elected leaders may pursue a parcel tax measure in 2016 to keep the town's library open after current city-funded lease expires in November 2016

Inside the West Main Street library, Amelia Villegas, Friends of the Guadalupe Library president, says it’s “inconceivable” to think of the town without a library branch.
Inside the West Main Street library, Amelia Villegas, Friends of the Guadalupe Library president, says it’s “inconceivable” to think of the town without a library branch.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Guadalupe City Council agreed to pay the library’s rent for the remainder of the current lease, and suggested trying another tax measure to fund the facility in the future.

The council voted 5-0 Tuesday to pay $28,883, the remainder of the rental rate for the lease set to expire Nov. 30, 2016. 

“I can’t imagine a town without a library,” said Councilwoman Virginia Ponce, who also belongs to the Friends of the Guadalupe Library.

But the council stopped short of supporting the library financially after the current lease expires. 

Instead council members said voters should be asked to cover the costs via a parcel tax measure placed on the November 2016 ballot. 

“It is ludicrous to think that every single one of the 1,500 households in Guadalupe have computers. Some of them don’t,” Councilman Jerry Beatty said.

“Some of them absolutely utilize the library for all of their media. I think it’s really, really important to keep this branch open, because where else are they going to go?,” Beatty added.

The library pays $21,500 annually for the building, with the Friends of the Guadalupe Library picking up the $1,500 not covered by the city.

Guadalupe has had a library since 1911, according to Shirley Boydstun, secretary for the Friends of the Guadalupe Library.

The city’s library operates as a branch of the Santa Maria Public Library, along with those in Orcutt, Cuyama and soon, Los Alamos.

Guadalupe's library formerly was housed in 725 square feet of a city-owned building before moving to the storefront site in a small shopping center on West Main Street.

“Two-thousand-square feet sounded wonderful from the 725 square feet,” Boydstun said. 

In 2012, city officials announced they could no longer pay the rent, prompting the nonprofit group to launch a “Save Our Library” campaign. Individuals, businesses and corporations raised  the needed $20,000 to keep it open.

A parcel tax measure in November 2012 , which would have added $20 per parcel annually for the library, narrowly failed to pass.

“Had it passed we would not be in this position and talking about this right now,” Boydstun said.

Through grants and fundraisers the library has expanded its offerings, including adding special computers for children ages 2 to 12. 

In a letter to the council, Santa Maria Librarian Mary Housel said the library serves an average of 40 people each day to take advantage of the 9,689 books, 902 DVDs and other services.

More than 48 percent of Guadalupe’s students are English language learners, she noted. 

“There are numerous studies linking early exposure to reading and literacy with a  child’s future success in school and life,” Housel wrote.

“The library is a vital resource for Guadalupe families with young children to find the support and resources that promote literacy and school success.”

Amelia Villegas, president of Friends of Guadalupe Library, said it is “pretty inconceivable” to think of Guadalupe without a library.

She recalled being in a meeting where someone asked why Guadalupe has a library when youths have computers at home.

“I thought the individual was joking when the question was asked,” she said. “(I) still am not sure.”

Since the major residential development Pasadera (formerly DJ Farms) has started building homes to add to number of parcels in the small city, the parcel tax put before voters eventually would be less than the $20 estimated during the previous tax measure campaign, city officials noted. 

“It would simply help keep the community growing as it needs to grow so I'm in favor of keeping it going,” Beatty said.

City Administrator Andrew Carter said he brought the matter to the council for clarification of whether the previous council agreed to give $20,000 to the library for five years, or through the remainder of the lease.

The $68,883 provided by the city for the library's rent is coming from a $160,000 payment stemming from the Pasadera development.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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