MEMORANDUM

 

To:                   Library Commissioners

From:               Luis Herrera, City Librarian

Subject:            Renewal of Library Preservation Fund

Date:                May 1,, 2007

 

            The agenda for the May 3, 2007 Library Commission meeting includes an item regarding the renewal of the Library Preservation Fund ("LPF") which was approved by the voters as Proposition E in June 1994.  Under this item, the Commission will consider a resolution endorsing a measure for the November 2007 ballot that will amend the Charter to replace Proposition E with a new LPF.  The proposed LPF has a 15-year term.  It will also authorize the City to issue debt secured by or repaid from the LPF.  Charter amendments sponsored by a Supervisor for the November 2007 ballot must be introduced at the Board of Supervisors by May 21, 2007.  We anticipate that Supervisor Aaron Peskin will sponsor this measure.  At least six supervisors must then vote to place the measure on the November ballot.  The proposal also has the support of Mayor Newsom.  Once on the ballot, the measure would require approval by a simple majority of the voters.  If approved, the measure would replace Proposition E.

 

BACKGROUND

 

As the Commission is aware, the Branch Library Improvement Program ("BLIP") is currently facing a funding shortfall estimated to be between $44 to $52 million.  The Library staff, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office, the Board of Supervisors, and the Capital Planning Committee, has developed a strategy for closing this gap and completing all of the neighborhood libraries.  Specifically, the group recommends using a portion of the LPF property tax revenue to secure and repay debt financing.  This financing option is the best available and would give the Library the ability to move forward with the BLIP program as designed, in a timely, proactive and responsible manner.

 

Proposition E expires in fiscal year 2009-2010 if not renewed by the voters.  As you know, Proposition E has played an instrumental role in stabilizing the Library's funding and enabling the Library to significantly increase its services and collections.  It is critical that we retain the dedicated funding provided by Proposition E in order to maintain and enhance Library services throughout the system.  At the same time, the Library needs the flexibility to use some of the monies generated by the growth in property tax revenues to complete the five neighborhood branch libraries in Bayview, Golden Gate Valley, Merced, North Beach and Ortega.

 

Accordingly, we are recommending that the Board of Supervisors submit to the voters a ballot measure that will renew the LPF before it expires and authorize us to complete BLIP projects.  A comparison of the existing Proposition E and the proposed measure for the November 2007 ballot is highlighted below.


 

COMPARISON OF PROPOSITION E AND PROPOSED BALLOT MEASURE

  1. Term:  SAME – 15 years
  2. Annual Property Tax Set-Aside and Annual City Appropriation:  SAME
  3. Spending Priorities:  Hours, services, and collections remain top priority

            a.  Minimum Branches: Increase

·        Proposition E:  Main + 26 branches

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  Main + 27 branches

b.  Minimum Hours: Increase

·        Proposition E:  1028 per week

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  1211 per week

  1. Public Input To Modify System Hours:

·        Proposition E:  Hearings at each branch library every 5 years

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  Hearings in each supervisorial district every 5 years or more often

  1. Use of Fund:  Clarified

·        Proposition E:  Restricted use of funds to the provision of "library services and materials and to operate library facilities."

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  Clarifies that LPF funds may be used for any lawful purpose of the Library Department, including to "provide library services and to construct, maintain and operate library facilities."

  1. Authority to Use Annual Property Tax Set-Aside To Secure or Repay Library Debt:  NEW

·        Proposition E:  n/a

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  Authorizes the City to issue debt to be secured by and/or repaid from the annual property tax set aside portion of the LPF for "acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and/or improvement of real property and/or facilities that will be operated by the Library for Library purposes" and related equipment.

  1. Proposition E Balance:

·        Nov. 2007 Measure:  Permits use consistent with the new measure of any balance remaining in the LPF at the time of the election.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION

My office has been working with the City Attorney to draft language for the proposed charter amendment. We have attached that language for your review and possible approval at the May 3 Commission meeting.  The action requested is a resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to submit to the voters a measure on the November 2007 ballot in substantially the same form as the attached language.  After introduction at the Board of Supervisors, there would be a lengthy public process, including committee hearing, before the ballot measure could be submitted to the voters.

 

Library staff strongly supports the attached proposed ballot measure.  It would allow the Library to both maintain and enhance the current level of service while securing the funding necessary to complete the BLIP program.

 

Please feel free to call me with any questions.