Santa Paula Bails Out Struggling Library

From a Times Staff Writer

The city of Santa Paula has come to the rescue of the local library, providing a $7,000 grant to help pay for general operating costs of the financially troubled facility.

The City Council voted Monday night to allocate the funds to ensure that the 93-year-old facility keeps its doors open. The council and library board also are considering a host of management options, which include having the city take over governance of the library, which is part of a special district and operates independently.

It is open five days a week and employs one full-time librarian and 25 part-time workers.

"At this point, we don't know what direction to take," Librarian Dan Robles said.

The council and the library's board of trustees are scheduled to meet in January to decide the best way to run the institution, he said.

City officials have said they want to help the library but are concerned about the overall cost of a takeover. The library, which has an annual budget of $475,000, depends solely on property tax revenue from the special district, which extends outside city boundaries.

The library's portion of property taxes has remained flat over the last decade, Robles said. Couple that with shrinking state funding and it spells trouble, he said.

As a city department, the library would be able to share administrative, legal and maintenance costs, thereby reducing its overhead, Robles said. The question is whether the city, which has its own financial problems, wants to take on the additional burden of operating the library, he said.

"They may not be able to accommodate us," Robles said.

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