Conservative News & Commentary

Jan 5, 2012 — by: B. Franklin
Categories: Government, Culture

Klamath County is facing a project budget shortfall of $1.8 million. The current idea on the table is to cut the budgets of every county department by 9%. While budget cuts are never a fun process, across the board cuts are the easiest way to deal with the problem — everyone feels the pain equally...

... that is if there isn't money somewhere else, hiding in plain sight.

The Klamath County Library's budget has increased from $1.5 million to an estimated $2.5 million during the past decade. This year the County Library is looking to expand its services by purchasing a building on the east end of town. One has to wonder in this age of the internet aren't libraries becoming less relevant not more so? If this premise is true, why are we investing more funds in a resource, libraries, that is less relevant while starving a resource, such as public safety, that is always important? Libraries are fun places to visit, but are they as vital as properly funding public safety?

Good budgeting is not about spreading pain equally. Good budgeting is about prioritizing and making tough choices. Those tasks that are critical continue to get the funding needed. Those tasks with less of a priority get cut proportionally.

While the Sheriff's department struggles to keep two jail pods open, the County Library will be purchasing a building, filling it with new books, magazines, videos and computers and then hiring additional staff to manage it. This seems a bit bass-ackwards. Wouldn't a better idea be to have the County Library forgo its expansion plans and give the Sheriff's department $500,000 so we can at least keep a second jail pod open?

Because the way its going now, you'll have plenty of libraries to choose from in order to research what happens when criminals are not in jail but in your neighborhood.

6 Comments

  1. Faith Wilkins ~ Jan. 9, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

    "The library connects us with? the insight and knowledge, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." -Carl Sagan #
  2. Michele Brochu ~ Jan. 9, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    Dear B Franklin, The difference is that the voters approved the tax levy for the library and voted down additional taxes for public safety. As a City resident I appreciate a good library and would much rather have my tax dollars going here than being used to fund rural patrols, especially now when we do not even have a bookstore in town. Do the swap with the City for the second pod again. The real Ben Franklin was the founder of the first lending library in America. He would be aghast at someone using his name to attack our library. Shame on you. #
  3. B. Franklin ~ Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    Hi Faith, Thanks for your comments. Mr. Sagan lived in the 20th century. His mind was that of someone from the 20th century. We live in the 21st century where I believe libraries are searching for a purpose. Almost all information in the library can be found on the internet. If this were 1972 I would agree with Mr. Sagan's quote, but it's not and we need to rethink many things, including libraries — especially when we have significant budget shortfalls. #
  4. B. Franklin ~ Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    Hi Michele, Thanks for your comment. It is true that about 10 years ago the tax payers for the county approved a tax levy specifically for the county. But that was by people that lived here 10 years ago, when the economic situation was much, much different. I'd like to propose a new levy on the library that decreases the funding and passes some of that to public safety, without raising taxes. As far as your thought on rural patrols, what if the people in Portland thought the same way you do? What if at the state level they decided to stop funding state patrols along HWY 140 and 97 and 39? "Why are we paying for rural patrols when we want to keep the money where the real population is?" Public safety is one of the few items the county government is required to provide according to the Oregon constitution. A public library is not. One is a requirement. One is a desire. If we put desires over requirements we all will be in trouble. Please don't misunderstand, I like our county library. I also like nice cars, going to movies and eating out. That said when the budget is tight, those desires must give way to the items I must pay for (rent, power, food, etc). Right now the currently library levy makes that money "off limits", and again decided by people who voted in a very different time than now. The library is living high on the hog while public safety is suffering. Again thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by. B. Franklin #
  5. Jennifer Turner ~ Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    The voters have spoken, so our opinion about the relevance of libraries doesn't matter. County government does not get to decide that the people have voted incorrectly and take library money for jails. (period) #
  6. MEHope ~ Jan. 11, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    Many of the public who are suffering have one place to get their internet access, movies, books, games, audio books, music, etc., and that is at the library. The library is open to everyone, every day of the week, it is available in every community, and it is available to those who can't get to the library. You do not have to pay to enter or use. All ages are welcome. The number of people using the library has gone up tremendously in the past few years due to the downturn of the economy. The library is hardly living "high off the hog", but it is providing a much needed and desired service to a grateful and knowledge hungry community. Public safety isn't suffering because of the library but the failure of the county/city government who can't get a levy passed because people don't see a good use of the funding or they don't trust the process of how it is managed. The library is being managed well, don't try to cripple it. #

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