Prop 81 library funding not guaranteed locally
It’s unclear whether libraries in Truckee and Kings Beach would receive funding from Proposition 81, a $600 million bond measure that will appear on the June 6 ballot.
The literacy improvement and library construction act would provide funds to counties for the construction and renovation of public library facilities, but would not pay for items such as books, administrative costs, interest or financing costs or ongoing operating costs.
“If [Proposition 81] is approved, it will be a year before anyone can even apply for funding, so it’s going to be a while before the money is available,” said Mary George, assistant director of library services for Placer County.
And not all $600 million will be up for grabs. In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 14, which provided $350 million in bond funds for library projects. Under Proposition 81, first priority for funding ” the first $300 million ” will be given to nearly 60 eligible projects that were not funded under Proposition 14. The Truckee and Kings Beach libraries are not on that list, and it has not yet been determined whether the counties’ boards of supervisors will apply for funding at all.
“We had a federal grant to build the (Truckee) library in 1976, but other than that we have never been funded,” said Truckee branch librarian Lauri Ferguson. “We need a bigger library ” at least 10,000-square-feet. What we have is 5,000. But we would need land, and you know how expensive that is in Truckee.”
The same is being said for the Kings Beach Library, which is also small and only open about 20 hours a week.
“We have been working with our library advisory board to problem solve about what it would take to build a new library,” said Sylvia Williams, president of Friends of the Kings Beach Library. “Placer County is growing very fast and so far other projects have been receiving priority.”
But is a $600 million statewide bond necessary for Nevada and Placer counties? Opponents of the bond measure don’t think so.
“I’m not against reading, and I’m not against books, but I’m not awful sure that this is the way that (our libraries) should be funded,” said Mavis Bowes, a member of the Truckee-Tahoe Republican Women Federated. “It should not be tax funded; it should be private money. Our government is being taxed to death.”
The fiscal impact of the bond measure would cost the state about $1.2 billion over 30 years; $600 million for the principle and $570 in interest. On top of that, the proposition requires local agencies to pay 35 percent of project costs, which could range from $50,000 to $20 million.
“[Residents] don’t decide (which libraries get funded); the county decides. The Bond Act Board will be making the final decisions, and the State Library Board will rank the projects,” Williams said. “It’s $600 million. We will hope for some financial advantages, but California is a huge state.”
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