The Library Working Group did not identify an economically feasible model for a consolidated library system covering residents of both jurisdictions (Rural Library District and city of Walla Walla). However, progress was made.
Existing costs and expenses were shared. Elements of a mutual service plan emerged. I encourage residents of Walla Walla to participate in crafting a city budget for library services in 2013 that supports the strategic plan, soon to be unveiled by the city library. The city submitted two "proposals" to the LWG. Lacking much definition they appear to be more "ideas."
The few specifics proposed the district decrease its revenues and match the city's per capita allocation from the General Fund to support the operations of the public library. Logic dictates that since the city's portion is inadequate and steadily declining, neither party's vision for library services in the county would be realized.
Consolidation of library services with the city, under the terms proposed, would prove a fiscal liability for the RLD and continuation of the status quo for WWPL. More discussion is needed.
An annexation proposal from the city was never made. Barbara Clark and Beth Hudson stated in early year meetings with the Library Users Coalition, "The city residents will not accept control of the WWPL by the RLD. Annexation is not an (likely) option."
I would be willing to pay as much as RLD residents do for library services - if it was dedicated.
Will I be given the chance? More discussion is needed.
It has been a popular strategy to demonize the RLD Board for not gifting the city its capital funds and "fill the gap" in services/funding between the city and RLD libraries.
This "attack" strategy distracts people from the real issue. The city, for over a decade, has been dependent on the RLD to pay for staffing as well as collection and other operational costs at WWPL. City allocation to WWPL revenues fell from $0.987 cents per thousand (1999) to $0.339 ($21.86 per capita) (2010). Even when the RLD contributed 40 percent for doughnut residents, service and staffing levels were not maintained for city residents - let alone supplemented for non-city residents.
The City Council hopes to increase allocations for the WWPL. Our city library can be of value in the contribution it would make to a district - but not at current funding levels - too large a disparity in services for good partnership. Let's strive for self-sufficiency first.