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San Diego County Taxpayers Association

625 Broadway, Suite 614 San Diego CA 92101 (619) 234-6423 FAX (619) 234-7403

Historical Positions on Main Library


December 2005

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) began seriously debating the
issue of San Diego’s Downtown Main Library in 1996. During that time, two points
have remained constant:

The City has insufficient resources to fund this project without negatively
impacting the City of San Diego’s finances.
Main Library costs continue to escalate: $62 million in 1996; $97 m in 1997;
$103 m in 1998; $145 m in 2001; $149.5 m in 2003; $185 m in 2005.

The following is a breakdown of where SDCTA has been on this issue.

1996: SDCTA opposed Prop. A & C, both sales tax increases for libraries. The
opposition was due to poorly drafted language, which would leave room for spending on
activities not library related. SDCTA also noted that the propositions furthered an
inefficient “fragmented” library system rather than a central library management
function.

June 9, 1997: Responding to San Diego City Council meeting, item 201 Main Library
Architects Agreement, which sought the approval of an additional $585,000 for the main
library architecture SDCTA recommended that the item be deferred and discussed
during the city council’s budget deliberations.
SDCTA noted that it continues to have concerns about the main library
and noted that, to date, the City has spent more than $3 million on the
project with $2.2 on acquisition and $1 million on architects and
consultants

1998: SDCTA voted to endorse increased funding to the State Public Library
Foundation and to support a $500 million library bond, SB 2026, the Library
Construction Bond Act.

January 21, 1998: In a letter to Judy McCarty, Chair of the San Diego Regional
Library Authority, SDCTA suggested that a blue ribbon panel of representatives be
appointed from various disciplines to analyze regional and local library issues and to
develop a regional library master plan including specific funding recommendations.
February 1, 1999: SDCTA supports funding of CIP projects for the library system that
included construction of a new/renovated/expanded main library. The City of San Diego
has identified $90 million in CIP projects for branch libraries (out of $212 million in
sales tax funds).
SDCTA renewed its call for the City to address and eliminate dependence
on one time revenues to fund budget shortfalls, fund $80 million in
deferred maintenance projects, fund “emergency reserves” – Currently at
$6 million.

March 1999: SDCTA supported Prop. L, a ¼ cent, 5-year sales tax for libraries that
was to be placed on the March 1999 special election ballot by San Diego County Library
Authority with a 2/3 vote required. This tax would create an estimated $423 million, in
which the City of San Diego would receive ½. Prop. L failed.

April 23, 1999: SDCTA Board minutes note that, in light of the failure of Prop. L,
SDCTA urges the city to re-examine new main library need, financing and location.
SDCTA urges mayor and city council to consider the following in regards to continuing
with the plans for the central/ main library:
1. Failure of Prop. L and continuing needs of branch libraries.
2. City’s heavy reliance on TOT for funding on current and proposed
capital projects.
3. City’s ongoing budget shortfalls
4. Effects of rapid technological advance on library system.

May 21, 1999: In a memo from Scott Barnett to Board of Directors, the ED
recommends that, “If it is determined that the construction of a new library is
appropriate, the city should then apply the following criteria to the selection of a site:
1. Which site within the city, not limited to the downtown area, would best
meet the overall needs of the library system (size, floor plates, access,
parking, operational efficiency, etc.)
2. Which site and surrounding area will benefit the most from the significant
public investment?
3. Which site allows the most advantageous financial deal for the city and
taxpayers?”

July 14, 2000: Letter to Mayor Golding from SDCTA opposes “People’s Library Budget
Ordinance” that is to be put on the November 2000 ballot. The opposition is based on
long standing SDCTA opposition to ballot box budgeting measures.

July 30, 2001: City of San Diego City Council Docket Item # 150 Library Project.
SDCTA opposed spending taxpayers dollars on a proposed main library project because
of insufficient resources to fund this project.
November 15, 2002: The SDCTA Board reviewed the financing documents for the
$312 million library system upgrade. $150 million of that was allocated to the main
library. In response to an upcoming item on the City’s agenda which would approve an
additional $1.5 Million in costs on the main library, the SDCTA Board passed the
following motion: “We urge a delay in the vote. We do not support the council voting
on the library financing plan at this time in the absence of an understanding of the impact
on the FY 04 and FY 05 City budgets.”

November 18, 2002: April Boling, on behalf of SDCTA, attended the Council meeting
to deliver the organization’s position. The Council did not agree with SDCTA’s concerns
and chose to approve the financing plan without requesting that the Manager provide the
financial forecasts. Ironically enough, that same day the Council approved Managers II
and the pension benefit increases.

April 22, 2005: The SDCTA Issues Committee reviewed the organization’s history on
this measure. The Issues Committee passed the following motion: OPPOSE the proposed
library based on the financial problems of the City. Should the current project not go
forward, the City should consider alternatives to the Downtown Library and develop a
plan for a central library that places emphasis on location, transportation access and joint
use with a new City Hall.

May 11, 2005: The Executive Committee for SDCTA accepted the Issues Committee
recommendation. Ex Com voted to OPPOSE the proposed library based upon, among
other issues, the financial problems of the City of San Diego. Ex Com also agreed with
the Issues Committee’s observation that, should the current project not go forward, the
City should consider alternatives to the Downtown Library and develop a plan for a
central library that places emphasis on location, transportation access and joint use with a
new City Hall.

May 20, 2005: The Board of Directors for SDCTA motion to unanimously to approve the
Executive Committee’s recommendations to OPPOSE the proposed library based upon,
among other issues, the financial problems of the City of San Diego. Ex Com also agreed
with the Issues Committee’s observation, that should the current project not go forward,
the City should consider alternatives to the Downtown Library and develop a plan for a
central library that places emphasis on location, transportation access and joint use with a
new City Hall.