The Walla Walla County Rural Library District provides much needed and appreciated library services to rural areas in the county. The branches it has established in Burbank, Prescott, Vista Hermosa and Touchet have become integral parts of those communities, providing access to informational and recreational reading materials, movies, audio books, the Internet and other electronic resources in convenient locations.
They provide a gathering place for community activities, a safe place for children to go after school and during the summer, and enrichment programs for all ages.
The planned expansions and renovations of these facilities are both needed and wanted by those living in the service areas. At the public forums held by the RLD for strategic planning in Touchet, Burbank, Prescott and Vista Hermosa, there were requests for more space and better facilities. The building plans recently proposed by the RLD call for approximately $1.8 million to be spent on facilities in these locations.
This amount is well within the Capital Reserve Fund of 3.17 million dollars held by the RLD. These are funds which should be spent to improve service and facilities in these areas, improvements that have been too long in coming. The proposed annexation would in no way affect these plans nor would annexation adversely impact future service to these areas.
The proposal to build a second full-service library in the area immediately adjacent to the city of Walla Walla at a cost of $3.66 million has met with opposition throughout the urban area. Those who have protested have concluded that the county would be better served by a consolidated library system, with the city annexing to the county Rural Library District and with the Walla Walla Public Library serving as the central library for the district.
If the RLD dropped its plan to build a second duplicative and unpopular full-service library, there would be no need to borrow $2.29 million to complete its proposed $5.46 million building project. It would, in fact, have about $1.3 million left in the capital reserve fund for future use.
Incurring this loan debt would result in the loss of operating revenue every year for the life of the loan, estimated at 30 years.
This is money that could be better used to provide services throughout the rural library district, certainly a more judicious use of taxpayer money than a redundant second library.