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And here's the letter:
Prescott has a very fine library - I worked there for almost ten years. http://www.wwrurallibrary.com/branches/prescott
Great town full of great people. I recommend taking a weekend drive and grabbing lunch at the Tuxedo Tavern or come out on the weekend for a Prescott Lions Club breakfast. Maybe take a drive up Skyrocket Road and enjoy one of the best views in the county. Don't forget to stop and take a picture at the Historic Mullan Road marker too. You might want to take a picture with the Touchet Valley Unity Wall too. Or wait until this summer and you can also take a dip in the Prescott Public Pool - something the local population has supported since the 1950's.
But I wouldn't recommend saying that Prescott folks are stupid while you're there.
It's impossible to debate our differing opinions on whether the rural library is required to subsidize the city of Walla Walla or not - because I think we are both entrenched in our opinions. So I'll save us both the time. But I wanted to offer some facts about the USDA rural community loans because it's a really cool program once you look at what it can do for rural communities - and some clarification on the Mid Columbia Library numbers.
Benton county has a total population of 180,000. 70,000+ are in Kennewick and 49,000+ are in Richland. Leaving only around 60,000 in the other cities and unincorporated areas. Richland maintains a city library that is not part of Mid Columbia Libraries - so 49,000 people in Benton County aren't even in Mid Columbia Library's service area.
Mid Columbia Libraries also operates the Benton City Library, Prosser Library, and West Richland Library in Benton County. So yes, the population is different - and the library situation is more complicated than either of us originally stated.
The USDA loan is through the Rural Community Facilities Loan program - only available to small agencies serving populations under 20,000. It's a unique opportunity available to the rural library. These loans are given out to accomplish the building and/or expansion of rural community facilities like schools, libraries, hospitals, fire stations - even parks and pools. It's not like a loan from Chase Bank - it's a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to develop community facilities in very rural areas. It's a way for small rural agencies to develop facilities without needing to increase the tax burden on their residents.
Rural areas may not have the population, or property value, to generate adequate funds from a levy without asking for a huge tax increase from their residents. But an agency may find themselves in the position of being able to afford a loan payment on the same amount within their current budget. This way funding of building expansion occurs within the current budget figures without asking for tax hikes up front.
If the rural library has crunched the budget numbers and can afford to make the loan payment within their yearly budget to accomplish the expansion of their library branches without increasing taxes on their residents - that sounds like a smart decision to me.
Two facility setups do exist like this - and they are as close as the Mid Columbia Libraries in Tricities.
They have two facilities in Kennewick that are THREE miles apart. The Keewaydin Park library (19,475 square feet) which houses all administrative functions for the Mid Columbia Libraries and offers public library services, and the Kennewick branch (32,132 square feet) which offers public library services only. Their residents seem happy to use one or the other, or both. More locations mean more options.
The Walla Walla Public Library developed a Master Plan for their building around 2004. They were able to complete phase one of the plan with large donations and fundraising - which was to add on a much needed new children's room (and allowed for much needed breathing room in other areas of the building). But phase three would be to expand the building to 30,000 square feet - expanding to all property lines - and they identified the cost of phase three at 7 million dollars. No one involved has that kind of money (which is why it never happened) - and 1.8 million wouldn't go far to make that happen.
Personally, I don't think annexation would be approved by the voters. I think it's the same reason why a 7 million bond was never run to expand the Walla Walla Public Library - they knew it wouldn't have enough support to pass. In recent years the public voted to tax themselves for a new police station, transit taxes, sales taxes AND they just voted no for the third time on taxes to build an aquatic center (oddly at the same tax rate as the rural library tax). Both libraries need to go their separate ways and deal with the realities of serving their own populations with their own funds - and be open to annexation later.
I see your yard signs and they have always made me smile - they make me feel less alone in Walla Walla. Your bravery to display them is felt by many, however silent we may be. As a teenager who heard the word "faggot" too many times, and saw adults turn away while I was hit and pushed around, I respect your strength. I grew up afraid in Walla Walla. I never told. I never stood up.
Walla Walla can be a very ugly town. Those outside of Walla Walla see it clearly. Those that live here seem to have blinders on and won't see the intolerance, hate, and cronyism that pervades the city and it's leadership.
This reads like, "I'm better than you - but let's cooperate!" Seems passive aggressive.
She says she is for annexation but then goes on to talk most about long term contracts that avoid annexation.
Like asking someone to marry you but saying they are really ugly at the same time.
Cost per Circulation isn't a standard statistic - libraries do more than check out items. Computers are used, questions are answered, story times are performed - it's a loaded statistic. You could turn it around and say that a very low cost per circulation means your library is underfunded and your staff must be running ragged trying to keep up with check out demands.
Statistics can be used to show whatever you want them to - here's an example:
According to the 2010 Washington Public Library Statistical report of all public libraries serving a population of over 5,000 people in Washington State, the Walla Walla Public Library has the highest percentage of Personnel Expenditures - over 83% of their budget spent on personnel.
The same report shows that the Walla Walla Public Library has the second highest non-resident card fee in the state at $135 per year. (Puyallup beat them at $150)
Statistics allow you to cherry pick whatever you want to meet your needs.
Barbara rightly states that it is more expensive to operate several smaller facilities in rural areas and that rural libraries need to do this to serve their populations. She then turns around to criticize the rural library for their services being more expensive when she just finished justifying it being more expensive??? Of course cost of service doesn't factor into quality of service at all. A service can be inexpensive and completely terrible.
It makes sense to think the rural library board is hesitant to consider annexation of the city of Walla Walla because of the loaded requests of the Library User's Coalition. Don't forget that the Library User's Coalition has already turned in an official complaint to have the entire rural library board removed.
I would assume it's difficult to cooperate with someone that has asked for you to be fired.
The rural library's statistics will be more in line with what Barbara prefers when they are allowed to expand their services appropriately to their own residents. And that would be residents throughout the entire county - don't let her tell you that residents in the outlying areas are being short changed. The only way rural residents will be short changed is if all of the rural library district funds are spent on the Walla Walla Public Library building. In that situation there would be nothing left to spend on expanding service in the outlying areas at all.
There is room for more than one library in Walla Walla - and there is room for both of these libraries to work together. But only when the situation isn't loaded with promises to one side and ensuring the rural library board is removed for political reasons.
I'm glad the rural library board listened, consulted their legal counsel, and made the appropriate, informed, decision. This is a good board of honest citizens trying to do the right thing.
I have no idea what I just read ...
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