In its full-page ad, the Rural Library District Board did an excellent job of laying out its complaints against the city of Walla Walla. I trust most readers recognize that there’s another side to the story, and I must say there are some serious inaccuracies in the statement.
But my main reaction to the ad was to ask how it helps us create the unified library system that almost everyone wants. Divisive arguing about what may or may not have happened in the past isn’t going to get us there.
Three models are under consideration for a consolidated or cooperative library system that would make cost-effective use of public money and facilities to offer excellent library services to rural and urban residents. All of them are less expensive than operating two separate systems would be.
Annexation eliminates issues about unequal funding, because city and current RLD residents would all become part of the same RLD system and would pay into it at exactly the same rate. Annexation would also generate more money for everyone.
A long-term service contract would also assure equal contributions from everybody, with all residents in the service area paying the same per capita rate. One of the proposals for this would give RLD residents seats on the library board to have a direct voice in making policy.
The regional library model is more problematic, since it is generally more time consuming for all parties and doesn’t resolve concerns on both sides with regard to equality of financing, but it offers yet another option to consider.
We can achieve our goal of a unified library system.
It’s time for the RLD Board to set aside its plan for a second urban library and the accompanying need to defend it at any cost against common sense. I hope board members will choose to work with their own taxpayers, the city and the county to build a library system that is fair and cost-effective for everyone.
Walla Walla City Council member