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Supervisor Ellen Pirie

ellen_pirieThe City County Library Joint Powers Board expects the 10-branch library system’s $11.3 million annual budget to shrink to $10.7 million in the near future. What changes are our public libraries facing, and what is being done to preserve them?

Like most publicly funded entities, the Santa Cruz Public Library is facing some very difficult financial times in the next couple of years. Santa Cruz County voters have supported the public library by voting for a one-fourth cent sales tax dedicated to the library. Without that sales tax funding we really wouldn’t have much of a public library system. Unfortunately, the one-fourth cent sales tax is not producing the funds that it used to and there is less money with which to run the library.

Santa Cruz County residents love their libraries and many are particularly attached to their local branch library. The branches are much more than a collection of books. They are also community focal points where residents and community groups meet, where kids do homework, where residents without a computer can access one, and where children learn to love books and knowledge. These branch libraries are important parts of our healthy, smaller communities.

Unfortunately, those branch libraries also increase the cost of operating the public library system and since the library board is looking to reduce costs, the cutting of the branches is one option on the table. Also on the table is spending less money on books and other materials, reducing open hours at all the branches and the main library, and other cost-saving options. The biggest cost for the library system is personnel costs and the fewer open hours or the fewer open branches, the lower the cost.

My hope is that those people in the community who care about the library system will help the library board decide how best to reduce costs while maintaining our system. We have to look not only at the present situation but also into the future. I believe that the library board will be able to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year, but the year, or two, or three after that will be much more difficult.

What is the Aptos Village Plan, and what does it say about the future of Aptos Village?

The Aptos Village Plan is a planning document adopted by the County Board of Supervisors that will guide future development in the village. The first Aptos Village Plan was written and adopted in the 1970s and was in need of updating. Over the course of the last several years my office and the County Planning Department worked with the residents, businesses and property owners in the area to revise the plan. The goal was to create a workable plan that would encourage new building and life in the village while keeping its casual, historical nature.

The plan adopted by the Board in February 2010 envisions a small, mixed-use village around a village green. It calls for re-use of existing historical buildings, easy pedestrian access to the entire village, and a new bike or skate park. The property owners in the village have been very involved in the development of the plan and many are hoping to move forward quickly with their “piece” of the plan. The Aptos Village Plan can be viewed on the Planning Department page on the county’s website.

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