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Oakley: Parcel Tax Being Proposed For Library

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.

Fiscal Impact
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


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17 Responses »

  1. not just no but HELL NO. I am a strong supporter of reading and libraries but this is a very bad idea. A tax for the fire dept is needed BEFORE a library. And I ahve to agree with Mike, this is being rushed through the council. WHY??????????

  2. These library people are out of their mind. Voters will never pass this and will be a waste of everyones money putting this on the ballot. Instead of shooting for the moon downtown, go somewhere else that doesn’t involve a parcel tax. Public safety will likley need the parcel tax first, not a library.

    • What a dream that is. A NIGHTMARE. Isn’t that building WAY over 50 years old. I know the county no longer helps build libraries but start writing grants, asking for donations etc. There is lots of money in Oakley. I bet that place is sooooo filled with cockroaches and other dead stuff. Come-on!!

  3. Highway 4 west will take you to any of those library’s with coffee shops if that’s what you want.

  4. Oakley let CentroMart go before they had a contract with Dollar General. Now they have to cover their back ends. It doesn’t make their management of redevelopment look very good and the good folks of Oakley will notice that a predominant downtown building is empty. By pulling in the active and vocal library folk it distracts from the City of Oakley’s mistakes. The library folk see an opportunity and since it is their first choice site they go for it. Makes sense to me.

    The CentroMart building is right in the middle of a designated redevelopment area that has the potential of drawing in lots of tax dollars for the city if they put the right business in to it. It seems illogical to put in a library at that site.

    Just like Ben I totally support a new library but public safety is much more important. Any new parcel tax considered should be to make sure we have enough fire fighters to serve our area. I think the library folks should be found another larger site for a couple more years that is temporary (like Brentwood seems to be doing). The economy will improve and Oakley will start to see growth again- that’s when we should consider the full bells and whistle model of a library.

  5. The elephant in the room here is that the City makes glacial progress in moving any development along (e.g. Laurel Plaza, Diamond Hills commercial space, other vacancies on Main St).

    What tenant does the City otherwise have lined up?

    I understand the concern about public safety before a library – where is the action on that?

    Desirable cities have decent libraries. Although we may never have one like Danville – a library is a very relevant in a community.

    For a city of our size, a shared high school library is inadequate and rather embarrassing. At the very least, building it at the Centromart site will fill an eye sore of a building. The prospect of a library at that location will more people downtown. The library patrons are likely to shop at other stores nearby (think Barnes and Nobles).

    Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not exactly a bustling metropolis, and with the City hemming and hawing, delays progressive commercial development, this one makes absolute sense.

  6. The city hemming and hawing causes the problem just like Antioch has. The problem is Brentwood is more than happy to do what Oakley won’t. They make no bones about it they are not shy to take away a business.

  7. I’m not sure what your definition of “out of the blue” and “rushed” are but quite a few of us have been aware of this plan for the library in that location for, oh, at least 3 months. And I’m not even calling myself a “journalist”. 🙂

    • A perfect example of someone not knowing how the process works. You don’t just move it forward like this, Burk is right. Polls need to be done, town halls, and other awareness before its brought forward. You just don’t one day put it on an agenda and it moves forward. This is rushed.

    • Stefan,

      I am well aware of the plan which has been in motion for much longer than 3 months as I know many on the Friends of the Oakley Library folks. Right now, its gotten political as opposed to a simple move to another location. Let me explain what I mean by “out of the blue” and “rushed”.

      it’s “out of the blue” because a library was never discussed in public as a potential option, instead, it was always supposed to be a grocery store of some sort of specialty shop/market. This is City Staff protecting itself from a screw up. If you had attended the DG Market discussion during a City Council meeting a few months back, you would know this. The General Plan also offers a guide.

      Its rushed because their has not been any polling or proper outreach to get a feel if this could pass or just a waste of money to put it on the ballot. Until all the details are made available, I am not supporting or rejecting it and neither should the council.

  8. I was at, at least, 3 public events over the past 3 months where the option of having the library move into the Centromart building was both presented and discussed (and I gathered that nobody disagreed with the idea and plan). Had you been present you would have probably learned that the plan for having a grocery type store there got canceled because DG wanted to open a dollar store instead. Also, the other possible options did not work out. So forgive me for *not* being surprised that the city is trying to move forward with the plan for the library relocation. After all, having that eyesore of a building sit there the way it is certainly isn’t going to do anyone any good either.

    • I am calling BS @ Stefan. I am curious as to what were these “public events” you claim to have attended? Who put on these events and were they promoted to all of Oakley to voice an opinion? Or just the little groups who support this proposal? I’ve seen nothing put on by the City to talk about a Library downtown. It would surely make news in both local papers if they have had three public events as you claim occured.

      When they did the downtown townhall months back, a library was never brought up by city staff or the public. I am not going to sit here and defend Burk, he can do it himself because he probably knows more about this than you ever will.

      Your ripping on Burk is obvious probably because he has called out your beloved chamber on occasion and you are friendly with the poor leadership. Maybe instead of ripping on Burk you should take off your blinders and realize the city botched the DG Market deal and is now stuck covering their a$$ because the building is sitting empty with no revenue coming to the city. This is such a short sighted decision that has long term raminifcations on city tax dollars. A library is a terrible idea in that location for the City not because i am against the idea of a new idea, but because of the lost reveue.

  9. Props to Burk and Former Chamber Member for calling it straight….as for Stefan, not so much!

  10. You can call BS all you want but that won’t change the facts. It only shows that you are suspicious of new information that for some reason, whatever that reason may be, has not crossed your radar (which may happen if sources of information are limited).

    The library was discussed in the three last breakfasts with the mayor, which last I checked are open to all of the public. I’m not sure how wide the awareness of these monthly events reach even though they are also always displayed on the big sign outside of city hall, e-mails go out, etc. The fact that it is perhaps not as wide a discussion and awareness as you may like does not detract from what I said, which is that these plans about the library and Centromart did not just come out of a clear blue sky and clearly has been part of what the city had been talking about for quite a while. It does not mean, however, that the city can be accused of trying to suddenly do something that they hammered out overnight in some backroom meeting, which is sort of what is implied here.

    What surprises me, though, is the tone you are trying to set in your comment. I am “ripping” on Mike because I mention something that inquires about his (obviously) hastened conclusions? I mean, sure, of course, this is just a blog and the bar is set much lower than in other more serious forms of news reporting, but likewise a blog that invites comments and participation is by definition open to adding to whatever information it attempts to communicate. And what exactly do you mean with “beloved chamber”? Yes, I am friendly with many people and quite a few are involved with the chamber. Should I be hostile with them instead or is that just a prerequisite of engaging in less than meaningful discussion?

    I have also found, in general, that if I offer my time to help out an organization and volunteer my time and effort, that it does help to be friendly with people. Call me crazy but we’ve got manners where I’m from. 🙂

    As for Mike’s repeated and frequent rambling about the chamber. I take most of that with a grain of salt anyway because Mike, in his own words that he uses to promote this site, believes that this blog here actually *is* a chamber of commerce. And please don’t call BS on that because that would only go to show you’re unable to find it and would need my help. 🙂

    • Glad we all agree then. Your crazy.

      • P.S. “Breakfast with the Mayor” in no way meets the definition a public meeting. Sorry Stefan things just don’t work that way. After reading your post again, I am more convinced we agree. You’re crazy. (Said in my most polite tone).

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