Thursday, May 12, 2005

Supes Still Backing Sales Tax

Seems the Board of Supervisors are still upset over the failure of Measure L, that proposed 1% county sales tax increase that failed last election. I can't get over some of the examples they use for still needing the tax increase: "We want to have deputies patrolling the streets. We want to have the libraries open. We want potholes in the street filled...".

Seems to me people have been complaining about the Library not being open ever since it was built and I've heard complaints about there not being enough deputies since I moved up here decades ago. All of this long before this so called budget crisis came about. I may have said this before, but this supposed budget crisis hasn't affected my life at all, at least that I can tell so far. The same cars seem to drive up and down the street each day (a lot of them city or county cars) and life goes on.

Sure, it was brought up by the someone that now Eureka Police Department isn't taking reports on lesser crimes. You have to call it in and they send you report to fill out and mail in. So what? Most police departments don't investigate things like petty theft and such anyway. Why should we bother them with writing the reports when it's something we could do ourselves and probably should have been doing all along?

Just goes to show that those in government will always be trying to raise more money to solve problems we've always had and that weren't ever really solved after they got more money all the times before. And some of the things government does are things we could do ourselves and probably should have been doing all along.


At 9:52 PM, Blogger Dave Berman said...

This only relates to a part of what you wrote but I want your take on this. I recently called Carolyn Stacey, Director of Library Services for Humboldt County. I told her that I had an idea to raise money for the library, and that I personally wanted to contribute. I said I would like to pay between 10 and 25 cents each time I check out a book. I think a voluntary program like this could generate a fair amount of money.

So then I took it a step further. I wondered if people would even consider making our meager proposed donation program compulsory? It amounts to a flat use tax that itself is still really voluntary if you don't choose to use the public resource.

I realize this is upside down from what we've always known. But then, I remember as a kid, my mom took me to open a bank account. She told me the money would earn interest. Now I choose my bank based on who charges me the lowest fees. If we can embrace such a fundamental paradigm shift, in such an ordinary part of the way society works, can't we also see that free libraries may simply not be feasible anymore? I don't want that to be true, but if it is, are we really going to see their continued decline while we choose to allow it?

So at this point I wonder what you think?

Now the kicker. Carolyn told me that California law prohibits libraries from charging fees for book borrowing.

OK, now what do you think?

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I was wondering about something along the same lines. I was thinking of maybe having "memberships", or some such, with the library: You pay a certain amount per year, or month, and you get to use the library for extended hours.

I don't use the library myself, so don't know the current hours it is open. But I wondered if maybe you could have it open a minimum period of time for the "general public" and those willing to pitch in by buying a membership could use it longer. So, maybe have it open from nine to two for the public but contributing members could use it up to five, or maybe even at night.

Problem with that is it becomes, or at least would appear to become, some class thing where some people had better access to it than others. But, as far as I'm concerned, if someone is willing to pay a little extra, maybe they should get a little extra benefit? It's still open to the public during certain hours. It would probably never be accepted by many, though.

As far as paying a small fee per book? Maybe that would help as well, although I'm sure those on the Left would oppose it, as they would my idea, simply because it would be considered regressive- the poor would pay as well as the rich.

I'm not one of the big proponents of privatizing every government service, as some Libs are accused of being. But, I should mention that some years ago, the City of Redlands had similar problems with their library. They turned operation of their library over to a private company and, from the report I read, hours and service improved remarkably. Of course, I might have been reading that from some publication or organization that was a privatization proponent and thus would tend to write a glowing report on privatization. I don't know. It would be interesting to talk to someone that lives down there about how they felt the turnover worked. I actually sent a copy of that report, or news article, to Bonnie Neely years ago and never heard anything more from her about it.

Don't know what to say about the law that prohibits libraries from charging book fees but it sounds like a problem with government to me. :-)


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