Conservative News & Commentary

Jan 12, 2012 — by: T. Jefferson
Categories: Government, Culture

A lot of kerfluffle has been flying around about concerning the idea of "using Library funds to help with public safety" or other budgetary shortfalls in Klamath County. There have been some very interesting arguments for and against the idea. 

Let me try to summarize the ones I've heard against the notion and then explain why I think the arguments for the idea are stronger.

 

Argument Against Argument For

The funds for the County Library were voted on by the people and meant specifically for the County Library System.

Very true. About 10 years ago the citizens of Klamath County passed a tax levy specifically for funding the library. That doesn't mean it is something we must to live with forever. Tax levies are often modified to increase, decrease or reallocate funds based on new needs and circumstances. Maybe the decision made 10 years ago no longer applies given our county's financial crisis.

Voters rejected two ballot measures to specifically fund the county jail. It is clear the voters don't want more money for jails.

That is partially correct. Recently voters rejected two ballot measures that would have increased property taxes to specifically fund the county jail. All that means is that voters did not want their taxes raised during a time when most incomes were declining. Maybe tax payers believed that the county had enough money but wan't spending it wisely. To suggest Klamath County citizens don't want adequately an funded jail system is simply silly-talk™.

A library helps us with knowledge and wisdom. It helps us connect with our past and to learn for the future.

Sure. But how many libraries do we really need to do that? We have the main branch downtown and then branches in Bly, Bonanza, Chemult, Gilchrist, Keno, Malin, Merrill, South Suburbs and Sprague River. That doesn't include libraries in every school and then the libraries at OIT and KCC. 

The County Library is the only place for the poor to get DVDs, Books, Audio Books, Music and more.

Not to be too harsh, but I know of very few 21st century people that are becoming successful because they spend lots of time at the library to get free DVDs, Books and Music. Reallocating county library funds doesn't have to close the library. It may reduce its hours of operation, and change the way it operates, but we're not suggesting close it.

Five years ago when the budget was $500,000 less than it is today, we did not hear people clamoring that the library needed $500,000 more in order to survive. Since we know the library was doing fine with $500,000 less, let's go back to budget of five years ago.

The idea it would be an offense against God and man to reallocate library funds is just the pig beginning to squeal. Other counties have faced similar funding issues for their library system. The solution was to privatize it. The result was the library system was re-opened with a significant cost savings to the citizens. That's because a professional company, that knows how to be incredibility efficient in managing libraries, is in charge of operations overseen by the county. If they do a poor job, they get fired and a better company is hired. Competition, it's a great thing.

We must remember this is 2012, not 2001 when the County Library levy was past. It is a very different time. Therefore to manage county services the same way today as then is living in a fantasy land. Smart, proactive measures need to be taken to ensure our public safety comes first and then other services in priority as funds allow.

Again this author is not for closing the County Library. Instead I am advocating a wise allocation of limit funds for things we all need instead of things some may want. 

6 Comments

  1. Jennifer Turner ~ Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    Please clarify, I thought any suggestion of using library funds was completely off the table. "Reallocating county library funds doesn't have to close the library. It may reduce its hours of operation, and change the way it operates, but we're not suggesting close it." #
  2. MizFurball ~ Jan. 15, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    What does it mean to "degrease" funds. Are we talking about the Chinese "fragrant grease," as in bribery? #
  3. B. Franklin ~ Jan. 15, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

    Hi Jennifer, Sorry for the confusion. The county commissioners have the ability to lower the rate collected by the library level (they could vote to make it 29%), but those "savings" would go back to the property owner (basically they wouldn't be collected). However, no commissioner has made this recommendation to my knowledge. For money to go FROM the Library levy to the public safety "fund" it would require another levy specifically for that purpose. I don't know of anyone who has put forth such a levy. A couple of us have suggested the idea (because we think it is worth discussing and looking at), but no such actual levy has been proposed. #
  4. B. Franklin ~ Jan. 15, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

    Hi MizFurball, Good catch, and quite funny. This error has been fixed (love spell checkers!) #
  5. Patrick Vroman ~ Jan. 15, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

    So, unless I misunderstand the article, T. Jefferson's argument is essentially, "We don't want to close the Library! We just want to get rid of wasteful spending." That's where it always starts. Perhaps T. Jefferson genuinely doesn't believe in closing our Library, but we are seeing the nascent stages of an all too familiar pattern. T. Jefferson's appeal to continually evaluate whether public services are meeting our needs is not a bad idea when taken at face value. But I fear we're about to travel the first inch on the dangerous mile-long road to the Klamath County Library's closure. The Klamath County Library has managed its precious tax revenue exceedingly well, ensuring that taxpayers are respected and residents of Klamath County are well served. I suggest reading Cynthia DeRosier's guest column in Sunday's Herald and News. (Click on my name to see the article online.) Our Library is one of the best public institutions that tax money can buy, and T. Jefferson's vague suggestion that we're not getting value for our money strikes me as a boilerplate condemnation of "government waste," which, in this case, is inappropriate. This doesn't have to be the Library vs. public safety. I personally voted for both the sheriff's levy and the jail levy. By no means am I a "law 'n' order" voter. Some objections I have heard do resonate with me, and my mind remains open to more such objections. But ultimately, I believe failing to adequately fund public safety has unsavory consequences. I suggest public safety advocates learn from the Library's example: A tax district would provide stable funding to this essential service. With this stable funding, our public safety agencies will have the potential to become model public institutions, just as the Library has been. #
  6. B. Franklin ~ Jan. 16, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    Hi Patrick, First of all, welcome. Thanks for your comment. I've talked with "T. Jeff" and his point is not about closing the library but putting needs in front of wants. Fact: Klamath County Government to face over a million dollar short fall next year. So the question of budgeting is making decisions between needs (must haves) verses desires (want to haves). It is like when you are in the grocery store. If you are on a very limited budget you should just buy just what you need. If you walk down the beer and pizza isle and think, "It would be cool to throw a party this weekend!" So you buy beer and pizza and throw your weekend party. The result is your friends think you are great! They might even write editorials to the paper saying how wonderful the party was and what a great community person you are. However the sad reality is come next month your power is shut off because you used that money to throw your party. So the question is community needs verses community wants. If we closed the library on Tuesday's for the next year until revenues returned what harm does this have on the community? If we stopped patrolling the streets and close booking proceedings at the County Jail on Tuesdays what harm does that have on the community? There is no extra magic money. It is time to make some tough decisions. Are we going to throw a party for our friends or pay the power bill next month? Again thanks for your comment and for joining the discussion. #

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