Library funding bill may go on fall ballot

Library officials have asked the city controller to review a $141 million library branch program that ended up behind schedule and over budget, in hopes of reassuring San Franciscans — who may be asked to approve more library funds this November — of the agency’s fiscal responsibility.

Predominantly funded by a $106 million improvement bond approved by voters in 2000, the Branch Library Improvement Program, or BLIP, was originally scheduled to have 19 branch renovations and four construction projects completed by 2009.

The program is now short by between $44 million and $52 million, according to City Librarian Luis Herrera, and five branch renovation projects — at Bayview, Golden Gate, Merced, North Beach and Ortega — have been postponed until additional funding can be secured.

To get that additional monies, library officials are eyeing a library fund approved by voters in 1994 that earmarks a percentage of city revenues for operation of the library system. The Proposition E fund expires in 2009, but The City’s Library Commission voted unanimously Thursday to place a City Charter amendment on the November 2007 ballot to renew the fund a year early.

The new preservation fund measure would be different in that it would authorize The City to issue debt secured by or repaid from the library preservation fund — which could be used for the remaining facilities improvements. Supervisor Aaron Peskin has agreed to sponsor the charter amendment.

Calls for an independent audit came from Library Commission members, the Library Citizens Advisory Committee and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, a philanthropic organization that funneled $16 million into the improvement program.

“I thought an audit would be important for voters,” said Library Commissioner Larry Kane, a partner in the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. “To make sure they know we’re not wasting taxpayer money.”

The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library also conducted its own review of the program’s forecasting methodology, according to Executive Director Donna Bero, but the study didn’t audit the accounting of the current improvement program.

Library activist Peter Warfield said he was skeptical of any review that didn’t verify the specific financial shortfalls of the current improvement program. He said the revised charter amendment amounted to handing library officials a blank check for future construction projects — and problems.


The San Francisco Public Library lists locations, hours, and phone numbers online.


beslinger@examiner.com

Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Navigation shelter resident tests positive for coronavirus

Homeless advocates repeatedly warned about an outbreak in congregate settings

CCSF taps first Asian American woman to lead as interim chancellor

City College reached a settlement with former Chancellor Mark Rocha after an abrupt departure

Plummeting Bay Area bridge traffic finally levels off

All told, weekday Bay Area traffic volumes are down by half, which has remained consistent from March 23 through this week.

Burger Boogaloo moved to Halloween weekend

Annual music festival hosted by John Waters to feature Bikini Kill, Circle Jerks

Newsom says face coverings can help, but California won’t mandate for now

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that face coverings are beneficial in grocery… Continue reading

Most Read