Goleta residents will have another significant decision to make when they vote in November whether or not to enact a parcel tax to provide more funding for the already struggling Goleta Library. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors previously voted this month in favor of supporting the new ballot measure, and the Goleta City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 19, to move forward with a ballot measure as well.
The vote would impact County Service Area 3, and the two ballot measures would both have to pass in order for the parcel tax to be enacted, according to Deputy City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa. “There is no denying that significant changes need to be made to library funding or library expenditures in order to remain in operating revenue,” Trepa. “Closing the budget gap is just kicking the can down the road.”
At this point, a draft budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 projects the Goleta Library to come up $246,000 short, and the reserve funds are expected to run out the following year. “As has been pointed out, it’s not enough,” said Councilmember Michael T. Bennett. “The library is nowhere near the staffing of the early 2000s. There has been constant cutback and we’re basically at the bare bones — we may have even lost some bones.”
The library is currently running operations without a children’s librarian, a vacant position that is expected to remain empty for the foreseeable future under the estimated draft budget. “I sit on the ad hoc library meeting,” said Councilmember Paula Perotte. “I think we’ve been talking about this for a very long time, and it’s time to move forward. I think if we put our heads [together] it can be done, so I hope we can move it along.”
As for the current timeline, the city will need to develop a tax structure and draft ballot measure language. Then the City Council will adopt a resolution related to the ballot measure before the clerk submits the election request to the county.