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


Jonathan Greenberg

The founder and Editor of the Sonoma County Independent, Greenberg is an investigative financial journalist with 35 years of experience with national publications. Greenberg also serves as founder and Executive Director of Informing to Empower, the parent non-profit of both the Sonoma Independent and the Maui Independent. Greenberg has won first prizes from the Greater Bay Journalism Awards for the past three years, starting with his coverage of the closing of County library cutbacks, and then Palm Drive Hospital. Jonathan’s professional career began as a fact checker at Forbes Magazine, where he advanced to the role of the lead reporter in creating the first Forbes 400 listing of wealthy Americans (as recounted in this recent article for Forbes’ 100th anniversary issue and more extensively in this biography of Malcolm Forbes.  Jonathan has been an investigative financial and political  journalist for such national publications  as The New York Times,  The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Mother Jones, Forbes, Money, Playboy, GQ, The New Republic, and Alternet.  From 2011 through 2017, Jonathan was a blogger for the Huffington Post, where his narrative-transforming reporting and analysis about subjects like Bernie Sanders, Monsanto and Native Hawaiian water protectors achieved some of the widest readership of any HuffPost writer on these subjects. Jonathan’s nearly 40 years of professional media and reporting experience has been enhanced by a Yale Law School Masters Degree fellowship program, from which he graduated with honors in First Amendment Law from internationally renowned attorney Floyd Abrams and then Yale University President Benno Schmidt. Jonathan is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Staking A Claim: Jake Simmons and the Making of an African-American Oil Dynasty, which a Washington Post Book World front page review called, “a rare biography that challenges the readers senses in the same the way science fiction does.”  In 1992, he edited Buying America Back: Economic Choices for the 1990′s, an anthology of 45 progressive solution-oriented essays called by Publisher’s Weekly,  “An immensely important resource for policymakers, community activists, and everyone concerned with building a more humane future.” 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,, and 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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