Library tax squeaks by in close vote
By a slim margin, Measure B, the Buy More Books initiative, passed in Tuesday’s election.
“How sweet it is.”
That was the feeling shared by County Librarian Francisco Pinneli and library supporters throughout the county with the passing of Measure B, the Buy More Books campaign that will impose a one-eighth cent sales tax countywide.
“We are embarking on a whole new adventure,” he said. “We are getting ready for the 21st century.”
The measure, which required a two-thirds majority, narrowly passed with 69.33 percent voter approval in the preliminary tally.
Pinneli said it was the many hours of hard work by volunteers to get out the message about the importance of community libraries that aided in the library’s victory. He said it’s not only a victory for the library, it’s a victory for the county.
“We have to thank the voters,” he said. “It is encouraging to see such support for the libraries. The community understood the importance of having a good library.”
Ruth Hall, Truckee Friends of the Library president, said getting early organization was the key to the measure’s passage.
“This is the end of a really long and arduous process,” Hall said. “The Truckee helpers began long-range planning a year ago and from that sprung the Blue Ribbon Library Council. It searched for the best
way to get the community to respond to library support. The sales tax was it.”
Pinneli said a professional consulting firm hired by the county’s Blue Ribbon Library Council conducted a countywide survey to assess library needs. Public opinion showed the most critical needs for additional library hours, children’s services and more books. Technological support was also a priority.
The book budget will triple with the passage of Measure B.
“We can now expand our services to help accommodate community growth,” Hall said.
Since 1992, the library has lost more than 24 percent of its funding, slashed its hours from 126 to 76 hours per week, lost five permanent staff positions and has decreased its book budget by 89 percent.
Currently, the county budgets $500,000 yearly to operate three libraries within the county.
The one-eighth cent tax will generate more than $900,000 yearly, based on 1997 countywide sales figures.
Pinneli said Truckee’s sales percentages were tallied, and Truckee will receive 24 percent of the $900,000 next year. Sales figures will be tallied yearly to determine Truckee’s percentage.
“The great part of this tax is that money generated in Truckee will stay in Truckee,” Hall said. “We have a good sales base which will help for funding.”
Hall said the library is planning to hire three new librarians, one specifically focused on the children’s collection. She said providing better selection of best-seller, children’s and reference books is also a goal.
“We want our collections to be really vital,” she said. “It means keeping them current.”
The tax will continue for five years and then be evaluated for its benefits to the library.
“Five years is a good enough period of time to re-evaluate our effectiveness,” he said. “The library provides lifelong learning and a source for entertainment. Where will children and adults go if the (library’s) doors close? What purchasers will be assessed is nothing compared to the benefits the county will experience.”
Hall said she is encouraging people to get involved with the purchasing process for the Truckee Library.
“We are going to have to purchase computers, books and other material,” she said. “We want input from the community. If something was lacking we want to know about it.”
For information about the library, call Hall at 587-5960.
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