SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A plan to change the Santa Barbara Library system's budget and funding formula for area libraries faced heated opposition from advocates and local leaders during a hearing on Monday.
Mayor Helene Schneider and city councilmembers agreed to keep the status quo and wait to act on a new funding allocation proposal which would have redistributed Santa Barbara County's per capita contribution to libraries based on population.
Historically, Santa Barbara has subsidized Goleta Valley, Carpinteria, Montecito, Buellton and Solvang libraries.
"It is complicated, but in a sense it's also very simple," said Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf who represents a majority of Goleta. "The County of Santa Barbara pays $7.80 per capita per person for library services."
Wolf said Santa Barbara administers the per capita allocation based on where people live. Wolf said the 2015 census puts Goleta's population at around 90,000 people, including the unincorporated areas.
Wolf said this year Santa Barbara city staff reduced that number to approximately 66,000, effectively decreasing the amount of money that would go to the Goleta Library by nearly $200,000.
"So the question is what happened to those people?" Wolf said. "They were given to other libraries in Montecito and Carpinteria. "The problem was we could never get a full accounting of where these people were coming from and where they were potentially going."
Santa Barbara County will now pay for a consultant to study the allocation of funds in the library system.
Goleta Mayor Paula Perrote also told the city council, "Goleta is exploring the idea of forming our own municipal library."
Also proposed was an increase to the administrative fee the city charges the five libraries to manage them.
The city of Santa Barbara currently imposes a 9% fee which results in a subsidy of more than $300,000.
Library advocates from area libraries told the city council that a 'sudden' fee increase would not give them sufficient time to change their budgets and would result in drastic cuts.
Schneider asked city staff to come up with a variety of options for a gradual increase to be presented at the June 12 meeting.