Thursday, June 4, 2009

Library hearing tonight

The Concord City Council continues its budget hearings. Tonight, they will hear about serious cuts being proposed for the public library system. According to sources, the main library will see its hours cut from 62 to 35 hours per week. The Penacook branch will completely close down. A number of citizens have been circulating petitions to preserve the library hours and the Penacook branch while a few people on the Concord Monitor site have suggested closing the library entirely, saving the city $1.7 million. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out tonight.

In posts on the Monitor site and in an email to the four at-large councilors and Ward 5 district council Rob Werner, I have advocated holding the line on taxes while utilizing funds and fees more efficiently. Specifically, I have requested the council transfer $100,000 from the cable access center's budget to preserve public safety and the library. I have also suggested charging for leaf pickup, which could raise as much as $300,000. In addition, I have suggested some department shifts in the police department, like consolidating the parking and records departments, with one supervisor instead of two. I'm sure there are some other things that they can do as far as consolidation goes.

Lastly, some people have suggested that you can't charge for leaf pickup or it won't raise as much money as officials thought when they first start debating the issue. I have to wonder though. For example, in the print edition of the Concord Insider, it notes that residents wanting leaf and tree debris pickup will have to bag all their items up on the side of the road. If that is the case, and I have no reason to doubt the Insider, why aren't people being forced to pay the city for those bags? They are paying for them now, only the money goes to Lowes, Home Depot, etc., and not the city. This is a HUGE mistake. Who knows how much revenue could be raised by the city by charging a fee for those bags [well, actually, we do know, it's around $300,000, according to sources, or 1 percent of the tax base].

I suspect tonight that a lot of people will be clamoring for a tax increase to save the libraries. However, this is the wrong way to go. The city really needs to utilize its funding opportunities to the best of its ability.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining how the Library could be funded by reducing (or paying for) costs in the City Budget. I have received several requests to level fund the Library but not how to pay for the $475,000. It should be a packed house tonight.

Mark Coen

Tony said...

Hey Mark,

Thank you for not only being responsive but for also considering how important all these many issues are. We do appreciate it. As well, I'm terribly sorry that more people in the community don't seem to care about how bad things are or how difficult it is to find solutions. There are 40,000-plus opinions. It would be nice to hear from more than 15 or 20 of them, wouldn't it?!
I truly do wish you and others the best in trying to balance everything out. But, I will add, that I hope you make the just, right, and best decision to hold the line on taxes and utilizes resources as efficiently as possibly. :-)