On Tuesday, library staff and the Friends of the Oakley Library will be pushing for a parcel tax of $50-60 per year that will turn the CentroMart Building into a Library. While three sites were looked at, there own audit conducted that the CentroMart Building is ideal.
While the library is a noble idea, my first concern is the lost revenue in terms of sales tax. But more concerning is the proposed parcel tax has no sunset–there is also a statement that says it likley may need an escalator to keep up with inflation as costs increase.
The staff report should have had a chart which outlines what CentroMart actually brought into the City over the last 10 years in terms of revenue. This void will be gone if another business is not placed in that building.
Also, this is an idea that should have been vetted in public such as a Town Hall or two before it was ever brought to the council. Official polling should be done to see where the public stands at different parcel tax rates. Keep in mind, getting on the ballot is not cheap. Factors outside of Oakley should also be looked at such as what other parcel taxes may be potentially competing against this “Library Parcel Tax” in two years. If voters see many parcel taxes, they are likely to vote against all of them.
Most importantly and not to be forgotten is the timing of this issue is right before an election.
Council members Pat Anderson and Jim Frazier drop from the council while Kevin Romick is up for re-election. This surely will get Romick additional votes if he supports it while saying no gets him unelected. You can count on him agreeing to support it.
The library staff and Friends of the Library will potentially have three new council members in 19 days which means this should wait until the next council is seated. This way, if the council supports it, then those pushing for this has a council who is vested to the measure to help make this successful.
To be honest, this somewhat came out of the blue and seems rushed. I say this because not all of the information is available and many questions need to be addressed. With that said, by no means am I rejecting the idea, I just want to see all the information and have some questions answered before I make a decision one way or the other.
I’d encourage the council to postpone any decision for 30-days.
On a side note:
It should be asked why Dollar General is no longer going to occupy the building as CentroMart was provided with an eviction notice. If there was no contract prior to an eviction notice, someone screwed up at City Hall and cost taxpayers some money in lost revenue as the building now sits empty.
Here is the staff report.
Background and Analysis
Oakley’s Community Library currently shares a facility with the Freedom High School Library. The Oakley Library occupies about 3,000 square feet and can, at times, access an additional 3,000 square feet of the School’s Library space for programming.
According to the Library staff and the Friends of the Oakley Library, the Library has outgrown its current arrangement The limited shelf space not only limits the collection, but also the opportunity to accept even newer “floating” items that are shared across all libraries. The inadequate programming space means there isn’t sufficient space to hold full-scale story times and other children’s activities. Similarly, the Library lacks study or work space, which is often requested, but not available. Patrons have but one power outlet to share to power their laptops. Parking is also
challenging as the spaces are often utilized during school functions.
The attached size comparison chart demonstrates that the Oakley Library is the smallest of the 16 compared cities. For example, Pleasant Hill that has a similar population to Oakley, has a 36,256 square foot library. According to a the California State Library 2007 “Public Library Needs by Library Jurisdiction” report, based on population projections Oakley’s library would be well-suited at 20,000 square feet
The Friends of the Oakley Library has conducted an analysis of three potential sites for a stand-alone library: the Sheriff’s Delta Sub Station, the Moura Property, and the CentroMart Building. The attached chart summarizes their findings. While the Sheriff Delta Sub-Station had long been the desired site; unfortunately, the Sheriff Office has recently communicated that relocating the Station is cost-prohibitive and not feasible at this time, or even in the very near future.
In short, the analysis determined that the CentroMart building would be the most cost- effective alternative for a stand-alone library. There would be no land acquisition costs associated with the site and renovating a sturdy 15,000 square foot building
would be much less expensive than ground up construction. Cost savings also stem from the existing utility connections and paid development fees. A Downtown site for the Library is also very desirable to generate positive traffic and activity – it creates another destination for the Downtown. Nonetheless, relocating the Library to this site would preclude potential sales tax generating opportunity; however, the building is large enough to explore incorporating a coffee shop or like retail opportunity similar to the Walnut Creek, Orinda, and Pittsburg library models.
Of course, the realization of a new stand-alone library would necessitate a parcel tax measure, which will also indicate Oakley residents’ desire for the facility. Attached are some projection scenarios that establish a construction budget of $3.5 to $4.0 million and $260,000 – $300,000 of additional annual operational revenues. To achieve these numbers, the parcel tax would need to be between $4-$5 dollars per month, or $50-$60 per year per parcel.
To be determined.
Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the resolution supporting the relocation
and expansion of the Oakley Library at the former CentroMart building and directing
Staff to work with the Library Staff and Friends of the Oakley Library to prepare an
implementation plan for the City Council’s formal consideration.
Full Staff Report