• Library tax heads for fall ballot

    The Pacific Grove City Council has approved a resolution declaring a fiscal emergency requiring the urgent enactment of a special parcel tax to “preserve the public health, safety and welfare” of Pacific Grove – to wit, save the library. The legal declaration of the existence of a fiscal emergency is not required to place the special tax on the ballot but was directed by the city council at its July 15, 2009 meeting. The city council voted to call a special election.

    The new parcel tax measure will read: PACIFIC GROVE LIBRARY FUNDING MEASURE (designation to be determined ) Shall the City of Pacific Grove Library Funding Measure be approved to enact an ordinance to create a Special Parcel Tax and limit that revenue to the sole purpose of maintaining and improving services at the Pacific Grove Public Library?

    Labeled the “Pacific Grove Library Funding Measure,” the measure raises revenue solely dedicated to staff, provide, maintain and provide service and materials at the Pacific Grove Public Library. Funds collected under the measure must be placed in a special fund and spent only for these purposes for the library. The parcel tax will be $96 for residential parcels and $75 per unit for multi-family parcels. A pass-through to tenants can be negotiated by the parties concerned. The “multi-family” designation will not apply to parcels with second units, however. Commercial, industrial and public utility parcels will be assessed at the $75 rate. There could be a lesser tax for vacant parcels after proper application. Low-income property owners may apply for an exemption in whole or in part.

    “Here is 26 cents,” said one proponent, showing a quarter and a penny. “That’s what this will cost per day.” The measure will generate approximately $630,000 per year based on current tax rolls. Should the measure pass — and it will require a two-thirds majority – the first results are expected in December, 2010.

    There is also provision for an independent audit. The Library Board will have oversight. With the addition of a “sunset clause” of June 30, 2021, the measure passed unanimously.

    Neal Whitman of the Library Board was happy with the vote, but he had some reservations. “I’m heartened that the city leadership is going to provide the voters, with the parcel tax, the opportunity to provide a predictable stream of revenue to support the library. However, my concern is that, in the future, when the economy and the City are in better financial conditions, that the city will never again allocate general funds to support the library. This would mean, in essence, the library budget would be capped at the parcel tax collection, which at next year’s anticipated parcel tax collection, is only two-thirds of what the library budget was only two years ago [$1 million and change].

    “We may never get back to a 54 hour week and the library will have no ability to grow. This would only mean a 30-hour week for how long?”

    It was estimated by Councilmember Lisa Bennett that the measure would allow for a five-day-a-week library, open for 40 hours each week. She argued to keep the proposed discretion to increase the rate based on the Consumer Price Index in the measure, which was done. For the November 3, 2009 election, the last day arguments may be filed in favor of or against the ballot measure is August 14, 2009.

    Mayor Dan Cort will write the ballot argument and rebuttal, if any. Then, the last date to file rebuttal arguments for or against the ballot measure is August 24, 2009. The City Attorney’s impartial analysis for the ballot measure is submitted on August 24, 2009.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 6, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News, Marge Ann Jameson


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