The Sonoma Independent’s Interim Financing Plan to Restore Library Hours

Most Supervisors say they will support a solution that cities co-fund. This plan makes it happen.

Sonoma County Libraries have been closed Mondays for more than four years, and there is no end in sight to the largest library funding crisis and hours cutback in history.  Last month, as described in this new report here,  the Sonoma Independent delivered a petition with 1,271 names on it to the Board of Supervisors’ annual budget meeting. The Supervisors refused to allocate the $1.2 million in requested funding from the County’s surplus to reopen libraries on Mondays. But in an unusual public response, three of the County’s five Supervisors spoke of supporting a financing effort to restore Monday hours, provided that it came from the County’s Library Commission, and that local cities join with the County in co-funding the solution.

Both the County and most local cities have sufficient contingency funds should they choose to do this, starting in the New Year. On July 6, the Sonoma Independent submitted to the Library Commission this $1.5 million interim funding proposal, that would last until a larger revenue measure can secure permanent funding at the ballot box.

This Sonoma Independent proposal calls for the cost of restoring hours to be split between the County and seven cities,  starting January 1, 2016. The County would contribute $600,000 annually, seven cities would share the other $600,000, and the Library budget would add $300,000 more. Because the funding would commence in the middle of the fiscal year (which ends June 30), the amounts to be paid for the first half a year of restored hours would be half the annual amounts described here.

The Library Commission plans to explore the proposal in its Revenue Committee, and decide whether or not to move forward with a plan to restore hours in the next few months. The petition on the right side of this page, and here,  urges the Library Commissioners, Supervisors, and City Councils, to commit to resolving this funding crisis this year.

Estimated Total Cost of restoring Monday hours and one evening: $1,500,000

Library Commission share: $300,000

 County Share: $600,000

 Share contributed by cities: $600,000

 

Proposed City Contribution Breakdown

(Sonoma Independent’s proposed amounts are based upon population, size of city budget, number of libraries, and level of shared usage by neighboring County residents. We left out Cloverdale because it is a financially strapped area and because many of its users are County residents).

 

Santa Rosa                            $200,000

Petaluma                               $80,000

Rohnert Park                       $80,000

Sonoma                                  $60,000

Windsor                                 $60,000

Healdsburg                            $60,000

Sebastopol                             $60,000

 

The founder and Editor of the Sonoma County Independent, Greenberg is an investigative financial journalist with 35 years of experience with national publications. Greenberg writes a political blog that appears in the Huffington Post In 2015, he won two first prizes from the Greater Bay Journalism Awards for his coverage of the closing of Palm Drive Hospital. In 2014, he won first prize for analysis from Award competition for his coverage of the Monday closings of Sonoma County's libraries. He has been an investigative financial and political journalist for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Forbes, New York, Money, The Bohemian, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Playboy, Self, Inc., GQ, The New Republic, and Alternet. He is also the author of several well-reviewed books. As a new media innovator who has developed a half dozen interactive web platforms and dozens of content-focused web sites, Greenberg is committed to enhancing responsive government and expanding media democracy. Greenberg is founder of Progressive Source Communications, a Sebastopol-based public interest communications company. In the past, he founded and managed two other online companies, TV1.com, and Gist.com. Greenberg’s political work included serving as Policy Director for the New York City Council’s Select Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment in the years following 9-11. His work resulted in more than $250 million of federal funds being re-directed to needy businesses and constituents in the impacted area. Greenberg has been Vice President of Fenton Communication’s New York office. His work on behalf of non-profit organizations has included communications consulting for Save Darfur, Stonyfield Farm, the ACLU, and the Lakota People’s Law Project. Greenberg holds a B.A. in writing from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a Masters Degree in Law from Yale Law School, where he graduated with honors in First Amendment Law.
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