Minding Your Q’s
Pacific Grove Public Library needs the proposed parcel tax.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Measure Q, a parcel tax on the Nov. 2 ballot, had its beginnings in the Library Summit of February 2010, when more than 100 citizens came out to share ideas for the funding and improvement of the Pacific Grove Public Library.
To sift through and research the best of the ideas, an all-volunteer Library Steering Committee was formed. This group solicited input from local businesses, library experts and others, and gave special attention to the concerns of P.G. residents as expressed in recent surveys and questionnaires.
A May 2007 survey had demonstrated the importance of the P.G. library to our citizens. The steering committee explored how to ensure the survival of the library in the long term, and how to provide Pagrovians with what they want from their library.
Measure Q, a citizen-driven rather than government-drafted initiative, is the product of thousands of volunteer hours of drafting, revising and redrafting, to ensure that it:
Provides absolute protection of the funds it will raise – Measure Q revenue legally must go to the library and nothing else;
Ensures accountability through a citizen’s oversight committee, so Pagrovians know exactly how the money will be spent at the library;
Includes a 10-year sunset clause and no cost-of-living annual increase, or any other increase, so we know exactly what we’re paying;
Contains a provision for low-income taxpayers, so the burden isn’t too great for our residents who can least afford it; and
P.G. CITIZENS VISIT THE LIBRARY NEARLY TWICE AS OFTEN AS THE STATE AVERAGE.
Guarantees a commitment from city government to continue to fund the library at 2.83 percent of the General Fund for the duration of the tax measure. This means that the city cannot relinquish its responsibility to fund the library or make taxpayers foot the bill themselves.
A group of volunteers worked with the city of Pacific Grove to achieve consensus on this ballot measure. The entire City Council joined in the effort to put it on the ballot.
And it will save our wonderful library. With 10 years of adequate funding, the library can afford to focus once again on the services and amenities its users need and deserve. And while the librarians are running the library (instead of worrying about funding), its fundraising organization, Friends of the Library, can get a foundation up and running that will, eventually, be able to contribute significantly to funding after Measure Q expires.
Those 10 years will also buy the city of Pacific Grove the time it needs to determine how it can afford to fund its library in the future.
So why all the controversy over Measure Q? Well, as we know, some of our fellow citizens areopposed to any new tax, no matter how worthy the cause.
Here in Pacific Grove, our little library is a powerhouse of activity. According to the 2010 California Library Statistics report, our citizens attend more than twice the number of library programs per capita than the California average. And we visit the library nearly twice as often. The P.G. library has well over two times the average circulation and three times the materials per capita of California libraries serving populations of similar size. Almost 500 of us visit the library every day it is open, which, unfortunately, is now only four days a week.
Pacific Grove is a town of library users, and many of us remember using this library with our parents and grandparents. It is a beloved institution, woven into the fabric of our lives and the history of this town. Still, some who have yet to discover the joys of Pacific Grove’s library don’t see why they should have to pay for something they don’t personally use.
Well, civic-mindedness aside, there are many reasons to support your full-service city library. It’s part of what makes our homes here in Pacific Grove so valuable. It contributes greatly to our quality of life, education, civic identity and sense of community.
Our historic Carnegie Library, the first free public library in Monterey County, is truly a gem in the crown of Pacific Grove. For more than 100 years, the citizens of P.G. have cherished and supported it. With the generous grant from the Carnegie Foundation, it became one of the “People’s Universities,” and has been a source of pride for Pagrovians for generations.
We know what we have in our local public library. We value it highly, and we want to keep it for ourselves and our children to enjoy. We don’t mind pitching in for a few years to get it up and running again if it means we can take pride of ownership in such a beloved institution.
For more info, visit www.yesonpglibrary.com.