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Santa Barbara County Supervisors Support Goleta Valley Tax Measure For Library Services

Goleta Valley residents likely will see a library-funding parcel tax measure on November’s ballot.

The city of Goleta has been planning to put a special tax measure on the ballot to get more library funding, and on Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors supported the idea of a special tax or tax increase for library services for the County Service Area No. 3, which is the unincorporated area near Goleta.

The two measures would be linked, meaning if one failed, they would both fail, county staff said, but specifics aren’t worked out yet.

An $18-per-parcel tax of the Community Service Area No. 3 would contribute about $162,000 in funding, according to the county.  

Goleta City Council members are talking about the city ballot measure at the April 19 meeting, and the Board of Supervisors will discuss the county measure at a future meeting.

Goleta Deputy City Manager Kathleen Trepa said library reserves will be gone by the 2017-18 year, which will result in more service cuts, perhaps closing one or two days a week.

Goleta’s library at 500 N. Fairview Ave. is hugely popular and serves about 90,000 people in its service area, a third of whom live within the city, she said.

The supervisors didn’t support going for a countywide library tax measure that would affect all unincorporated areas.

County staff and the Library Advisory Committee said there isn’t enough time to organize and campaign for a countywide effort because the county and each individual city would need separate, coordinated measures. 

There was also a mixed bag of support, with some Friends of the Library groups threatening to openly oppose it, according to the county.

“I think it would be more contentious than people think it may be,” said George Chapjian, community services director, at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Library folks aren’t violent but “there will be blood on the books” if the supervisors supported a countywide tax for the unincorporated area to fund libraries, said Judith Dale, a member of the Library Advisory Committee.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said there are already questions about how per-capita funding gets divided between libraries, and the issue is complicated by the fact that each city provides “very different levels of capital funding” to libraries.

“There isn’t one library in the county that isn’t facing some kind of a serious funding shortage,” she said. “The issues are severe, and they’re quickly becoming critical.”

The county contributes $3.4 million to the county’s 17 libraries, which works out to $7.80 per capital.

The Library Advisory Commission recommended, and the county supervisors agreed, that staff come up with alternative options to finance library services throughout the county. Some possibilities include a joint-powers agency, a county service area, a community facilities district or a community services district.

With a structure like that in place, the county could pursue a unified ballot measure in a future election, one ballot for all incorporated and unincorporated areas, Chapjian said.  

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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.

Santa Barbara County contributes $3.4 million in library funding and cities contribute varying levels of funds to their libraries, according to the community services department. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County contributes $3.4 million in library funding and cities contribute varying levels of funds to their libraries, according to the community services department.  (Santa Barbara County)

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