If you’re only going to vote yes on one of the numerous ballot
measures which are asking for money March 2, pick Measure B.
The library parcel tax is sensible, not suffocating.
If you’re only going to vote yes on one of the numerous ballot measures which are asking for money March 2, pick Measure B.

The library parcel tax is sensible, not suffocating.

It asks voters to replace an existing tax that sunsets with a $42 per year property levy for homeowners. Business and commercial property owners would also kick in to help pay for Santa Clara County Library operations.

Of all the government services voters will be asked to endorse March 2, the library is a clear winner. Having a library that’s open enough hours, that has a wide-ranging book collection and a staff that is professional and caring is clearly in the community’s best interest. And county librarians aren’t pulling down six-figure salaries and benefits that make private sector employees wince.

The choice is clear: yes on Measure B. The parcel tax replaces a $33.66 tax that is set to expire in 2005. If two-thirds of voters don’t approve Measure B, the Santa Clara County Library will lose approximately 21 percent of its funding – a devastating blow whose impact will likely be increased as state budget cuts are proposed to be aimed at libraries.

A 21 percent loss of funding will have drastic impacts at South County’s two libraries. Library administrators predict a 21 percent cut in hours; 35,000 fewer books would be purchased each year; award-winning services would be trimmed.

There’s no reason for that nightmare scenario to become a reality.

Here are a few reasons to vote yes:

• The library is very efficiently run on a meager $26 million annual budget (just for comparison, our county library system spends less in a year on salaries, utilities, books, programming and services than the City of Gilroy proposes to spend to build a new police station).

• Despite its lean budget, the Santa Clara County Library is consistently rated one of the top libraries of its size in the country.

• Library services help the community by providing literacy services, access to technology and children’s reading programs, to name just a few.

• Demand for those services has increased dramatically in the last decade – 79 percent – due to population growth, school budget cuts and the increasing role the Internet is playing in our lives.

• All taxes levied within a city are returned to that city’s library to pay for books, materials, hours and services.

• The modest ($8.34 for homeowners) increase does not keep pace with increased costs for salaries, utilities and books the library has faced since 1994, when the current special tax was approved by voters. This tax will not fund new programs; it will only help maintain existing services.

• The measure will expire in seven years.

If Measure B is approved, it would add $20.84 a year to the parcel tax for each retail acre, $62.55 per acre for non-retail commercial property, and $1.88 per acre for undeveloped property.

Endorsing Measure B is an easy call – we urge all voters to ask themselves a simple question: Does maintaining library services and materials warrant an additional $8.34 a year? Look at it this way: Is maintaining library hours and materials worth the cost of a fast-food meal or the cost of a video game rental? Is it worth the cost of a paperback novel or the cost of a used CD?

The answer is a resounding yes. Pass Measure B.

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