Santa Paula Times

BCL Librarian asks City Council for accounting of developer fees

December 30, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

Blanchard Community Library’s top official hinted the city just might be Scrooge when it comes to funds collected through development fees that should be turned over.

BCL Librarian Dan Robles told the City Council at the December 19 meeting the state “has pulled the trigger” on funding given to public libraries. 

Subsequently, BCL, which recently ended its year-long centennial celebration, will no longer receive state funding that Robles said represents half the library’s annual general fund budget. Such a cut will impact services throughout the library system that will negatively impact users, ranging from students conducting study and research to literacy programs and children’s activities.

Robles said the issue of funding has long been a frustrating one: a resolution crafted by the city in 2003 regarding development fees took eight years to be finalized. “A stumbling block” was it was mandated that fees could be applied only to library use by Santa Paula residents.

“To this date we have been unable to find out how much money” is available to the library and when to expect payment. Robles said the library was told by the city in 2005 there was $69,000 in the account that had to be spent according to a formula based on needed books and expansion or new construction to accommodate the growing number of residents. Robles said the departure earlier this year of Finance Director John Quinn has complicated matters.

The library has had a “zero book budget” for two years, and Robles said purchases started again in late spring. “We have yet to receive reimbursements, although” invoices were submitted to the city. 

Robles said, “We know everybody is hurting, the economy is bad,” and the funds the city claimed to be holding for BCL “may not be there.... If it’s not spent within five years the developers can ask for it back,” and he questioned whether such funds had been refunded by the city. 

Mayor Bob Gonzales thanked Robles for bringing the issue to the council’s attention, and City Manager Jaime Fontes said he would have appreciated being contacted by Robles. “I have not received one call from Dan,” and Fontes said if he had it would have allowed him to investigate and possibly take action before the meeting.

Robles said he has spoken to Finance Department staff. Fontes said he would look into the issue.