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Measure N ups annual library operating costs by $1.1million

Original post made by hidden costs, Crescent Park, on Oct 15, 2008

Measure N has a number of hidden costs. Significantly $750,000 to $1.1 million annually in higher operating expenses.

Notice that this sort of information isn't included in the bond literature. Our library spending is already twice as much per-capita compared to our neighboring cities. Something else they fail to tell us.








Comments (27)

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 15, 2008 at 10:51 am

With the way the economy is going, we can't afford to give another blank check like this to the wastrels at city hall. Let them cut out the ridiculous bonuses to underperforming managers to pay for the library...for example.


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Posted by Mondo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:00 am


I received a pro-N mailer a few days ago. It used the phrase "no-frills" as a description of the proposal.

Nowhere did it mention that the funds that would also pay for a rebuilt community center in Mitchell Park. Besides the multi-branch issue, this is a big factor for me. I feel the city is using the pent-up demand for imroved library facilities to shoe-horn in other pet projects. If the preliminary polling that the city paid for had gone better, they would have bundled in the new Police building as well.

The only justification for this (in my opinion) "frill" is the following sentence from the FAQ on the main pro-N website: "It has an outdated kitchen, non-air-conditioned spaces, and unattractive facilities and restrooms." Is this really enough reason to bulldoze the whole thing and spend $$$ to rebuild a dream facility from scratch?

I have been unable to find anywhere a breakdown that breaks out how much of the $76 million of bond money will be used to rebuild this facility. Does anyone know?

I love libraries and wish Palo Alto had better ones, but I won't vote for this kind of cynically-packaged luxury project, especially given the current state and likely medium-term trajectory of the economy. In the meantime, I mainly use the Los Altos branch of the Santa Clara County Library. Even though its housed in a modest, "outdated" facility, it has an excellent collection and provides access to holdings from the entire county system.

Mondo


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Posted by boomer who loves libraries
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:00 am

With the way the economy is going, many more Palo Altans will need to use library services. Palo Alto is working hard to contain operating costs.

What surprises me is that opponents of Measure N fail to mention that when they helped defeat the last library bond, they defeated a bond that was only $45M, claiming that this was the most prudent thing to do.

They ignored arguments that a future bond would be more expensive, because they said things like construction inflation would not be a factor.

They were wrong about that, and they're wrong now.

Also, notice that the few Measure N opponents here say they "love libraries", but all they seem to be saying is that libraries are wasteful, and that they're unnecessary. They say that the Internet is replacing libraries, when in fact library attendance has climbed 30% since the inception of the internet - along with digital media and book circulation.

With hard times on us, our citizens are going to come to depend on the library even more.

More than 800,000 visits to the library last year says that we love libraries. Let's show at the polls that we want to keep our libraries open and strong.

Vote Yes on N


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Posted by mt
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:53 am

If the library director went to the city and asked for a $1.1M increase on budget they wouldn't get it. They were even refused a request for increase this year.
The city budget is already under strain. We can't afford this sort of on-going cost increase.



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Posted by boomer who loves libraries
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Library costs will DECREASE if Measure N is passed. If we defeat Measure N, the cost of operating our libraries will INCREASE because we won't be able to operate as efficiently as other libraries. That's in all the planning documents. I wish people would read up before posting distorted opinion.

Vote YES on N!


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:30 pm

boomer, you really don't know what you're voting for. It's FOPAL's site that is listing this operating cost increase.

Other Costs: $750,000 to $1.1 million annually in higher operating expenses; about $4.3 million one-time for furniture, fixtures, equipment

It really is a shame the pro-bond folks on these forums haven't educated themselves with the facts behind this bond. They don't know how much it's costing us but they are sure going out there and telling everyone to vote for it anyway.



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Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Mondo,

I my searches through the city documents (via website) to find cost break-downs for the bond, $56M was the amount listed for the re-do of Mitchell Park Library and Community Center. It did not have them broken-out separately.


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Posted by FACTS
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:54 pm

"furniture, fixtures, equipment"

furniture, fixtures, equipment are going to be paid for with private donations, not taxpayer money. please get your facts straight


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Posted by Mondo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

JSD,

Thanks for looking. I too read through a bunch of stuff on the city website and couldn't find this info (and just how painful a process it is to try to find something on the city website deserves a thread of its own).

I suspect that they were designed and costed out as a single project and there is no official breakdown available (which makes it easier to market the $76 million figure as library-focused).

The proposed community center square footage is 15,000 sq ft, compared to 36,000 for the proposed library. So a rough estimate would be that the community center will cost about 30% of the
$56 million, or about $17 million. That's about 22% of the overall Measure N expenditure. It could well be higher, given the "catering kitchen" they've designed in.

Anyone else have more concrete data?

Mondo

Mondo


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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:01 pm

It would cost more than $17M to simply fix the rec center. And building the rec center/library saves staff salaries by combining programming. I'm surprised that you don't mention that.


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Are private donations also going to cover the $750,000 to $1.1Mil operating cost increase? No? Thought not!



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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:16 pm

"Are private donations also going to cover the $750,000 to $1.1Mil operating cost increase?

There is a cost DECREASE if measure N passes. You are wrong about this. Please stop trying to close our libraries.


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Posted by Mondo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm

YNTRTFs,

I haven't been convinced there is an urgent need to "fix" the current Mitchell Park community center building.

How is the "combined programming" you mention going to save staff salaries? I've read through the betterlibrariesforpaloalto website and followed the links from there to other City reports and didn't see any claims to this effect.

Please provide a link if you have seen info that I haven't. It doesn't make sense to me though, as there's nothing stopping them from combining programming currently using the existing buildings.

Mondo


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm

They are the facts, look at FOPAL's site. These aren't my numbers.

The fact that you didn't know about it and don't believe it shows how little you know about this bond.



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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:23 pm

FoPAL has not yet calculated the savings introduced by library technology made possible by the plan. Perhaps you should have read the technology consultant's report, so you could report facts instead of misleading opinions?


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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm

"How is the "combined programming" you mention going to save staff salaries? I've read through the betterlibrariesforpaloalto website and followed the links from there to other City reports and didn't see any claims to this effect."

This was discussed many times in community meetings, and is agreed to by staff. Combined programming creates staff efficiencies, which saves taxpayer dollars. Opponents of Measure N want citizens to believe the opposite, which isn't true

Vote YES on N


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Posted by Mondo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2008 at 1:41 pm

YNTRFs,

I don't understand what the "combined programming" is you're referring to.

I haven't attended any community meetings, but I have read extensively.

Please spell out for me the overlap in staffing duties between librarians and community center staff that will enable costs savings and then explain how the overlap is solely enabled by facilities construction. Aren't these staffed by completely separate city departments anyway?

Trying to understand your argument,

Mondo


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Pro-bond folks on these forums now consider reports by FOPAL as misleading. We are getting the extreme element in the debate here. Or FOPAL has lost control of its members.
Who's numbers am I going to trust here? Someone who obviously has no idea of the costs involved or a group that at least has done a study on it. Sorry, yntrf, you lose.



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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm

First, FoPAl is very accurate in its reporting, but doesn't capture every nuance of library developments. FoPAL is primarily concerned with raising private funds for the library.

The more extreme opponents of Measure N, like "hidden costs" will say and do anything to disparage our library. hc's agenda is to close libraries. Note that not ONE positive thing about libraries comes from the more extreme anti-N posters. This is indeed sad.

Some of them don't even live in Palo Alto, but seem to get a kick out of spreading lies and rumors whenever any bond measure comes up. They're mostly Libertarian radicals.

About the efficiencies between the Rec Center and the Library. Libraries are evolving to learning and educational centers that expand the traditional role of library. THis fits in nicely with Rec center programming that related to educational, cultural, and environmental programming - to name a few. There are plans to combine and coordinate programming between the Rec Center and Library, including PAUSD, to create seriously significant school and municipal efficiencies.

Another reason to vote YES on N!


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Mondo, he doesn't understand. Take a look at the auditors comments on this. They are going to require 2-3 additional staff for the expanded Mitchell Park library. They aren't installing the RFID technology at the branch libraries and they could install them in the existing buildings at Main & Mitchell.
This bond can't spend money on the technology in any case so this can be done with or without the bond.
The bond won't add any more efficiency than we could without it but will sure as hell increase our operating costs by $750,000 to $1.1million per year for the larger building. Dianne Jenning's has stated as much with her comment on operating a larger facilities with more hours.
YNTRF probably doesn't believe Dianne either.


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Posted by Mondo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm

"About the efficiencies between the Rec Center and the Library. Libraries are evolving to learning and educational centers that expand the traditional role of library. THis fits in nicely with Rec center programming that related to educational, cultural, and environmental programming - to name a few. There are plans to combine and coordinate programming between the Rec Center and Library, including PAUSD, to create seriously significant school and municipal efficiencies."

Sorry, but this kind of abstract, wishful thinking kind of response is a non-answer.

Can you give one concrete example of what you're talking about (and make sure its something that's impossible without demolishing and rebuilding the existing library and community center)?

Please don't feel like I'm picking on you personally, but I'm tiring of reading unsupported claims about Measure N and I've not seen this mentioned anywhere else.)

Mondo (PA resident, not a "radical libertarian", not a library hater)


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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:46 pm

One example; currently the Rec Center and Library both house computer literacy programs. Much of this is unconnected to PAUSD curriculum. Just of many ideas that is under consideration is to put all this in one place, and coordinate it with computer literacy within PAUSD, so that continuing progress can be made in after school hours in a classroom setting.

btw, to "hidden costs" - Our library director has stated many times, in public meetings - as have the consultants and Library Commissioners - that materials handling technologies will save library staff hours as library circulation increases. You REALLY need to do your research on the library.

Vote YES on N


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm

YNTRTF, I have done my research. That is why I'm aware of the additional costs that will be required if the bond passes. You, on the other hand, have little to no idea of the additional costs. All your examples can be implemented without the bond passing. You have not shown FOPALs numbers to be incorrect.
In addition to claiming that FOPALs numbers are incorrect, you've ignored the audit report and then place claims on Dianne's comments. I can provide the link to my claim - can you?
All your examples of savings have fallen flat since they can and should have been implemented a long time ago without this bond.
You are adding little to the discussion here. It's a pity you can't provide any facts to back up your counter-claims against FOPAL and the audit report. You really are out on a limb here with no way back.


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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm

"n addition to claiming that FOPALs numbers are incorrect"

FoPAL's numbers are correct, but they have not yet posted results about meetings and consultant reports that show staff savings from materials handling. Your information is incomplete. Please don't put words in my mouth.

PLease look at videos of LAC meetings when library technology and materials handling was discussed. they're public record. I'm not going to do your homework for you. IN those meetings, it was clearly stated that materials handling, which library opponents want to stop, WILL save staff time and tax dollars.

Please, please do your research instead of parroting ithe same old tired distortions. Everything I say is somewhere in the public record.

Vote YES on N.


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm

"FoPAL's numbers are correct, but they have not yet posted results about meetings and consultant reports that show staff savings from materials handling."

Ah, of course. Their numbers were only published last week and don't take into account the meetings since last week...wait, what?
Are you for real? You really don't have anything to add to this discussion?



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Posted by you need to report facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2008 at 3:31 pm

FoPAL's postings are a month behind the LAC meetings. they haven't posted anything from the September meeting yet. I wish you would get your facts straight.

Vote YES on N


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Posted by hidden costs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm

And RFID support isn't dependent on this bond as I mentioned above. You can't apply this as a benefit from the bond since the bond money can't even be used to fund it. We can and should have installed it a long time ago. We aren't installing them in branches and they can be installed in Main and Mitchell now.

The actual annual operating increase for this bond is $750,000 to $1.1mil.

FOPALs numbers are correct, you can't get away from that as much as you would like to.


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