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MailTribune.com
  • Central Point considers libraries

    City mulls a plan that could keep its library open even if a county levy fails
  • CENTRAL POINT — The City Council will review a proposed library funding idea and discuss allocation of hotel-motel tax revenues at a 6 p.m. study session Monday.
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  • CENTRAL POINT — The City Council will review a proposed library funding idea and discuss allocation of hotel-motel tax revenues at a 6 p.m. study session Monday.
    With funding for county libraries on the chopping block due to loss of federal timber funds, Mayor Hank Williams recently presented an idea that could keep the city's library doors open, if necessary, via a partnership with the Central Point School District.
    Williams believes voter approval of a countywide library levy is unlikely.
    Though his idea has been met with some frustration by library supporters, Williams said the city has no desire to run its own library, but merely wants a plan in place for a worst case scenario.
    "We don't know what the county community's going to do. Even if they get their one-year (timber fund extension), or even if the library levy passes, they may restructure," Williams said.
    "We just want to look at our options."
    While some library supporters have frowned on Williams' idea, council members at a recent meeting were open to reviewing operating costs and discussing Williams' proposal.
    Councilwoman Kay Harrison said the city would do what it had to in order to best serve citizens. Harrison felt strongly that the library and its popular meeting rooms are important assets for the community.
    "Chances are the county levy is going to go down. Hopefully it will pass, but the problem is, still, it's just a temporary solution. It would be good if we could roll back the clock about 15 years and set up a separate library district so no one could dip in the pot," Harrison said.
    "But that's not the way it is. The bottom line is, if the levy doesn't pass, Central Point will work out a partnership with someone to make sure our library stays open. We owe that to our citizens."
    Library levy supporter and Senior Circuit Court Judge Ross Davis will speak at Monday's workshop in favor of the proposed library levy, which could appear on ballots in May just one month after the planned April 7 library system closure.
    Davis applauded the city's obvious concern for keeping its library open, but said he would continue pushing for a countywide library system.
    "It is wonderful that the city of Central Point values the library, and knows and recognizes that it's a valuable asset for their community." Davis said.
    "The statistics, the numbers,
    "The statistics, the numbers, show that it is cheaper for the varying cities to be under the umbrella of the total county system than it is for them to run their own. Ashland found that and that's why they are waiting for the outcome (of the levy).
    "They've invited me to speak on Monday and I'm going to tell them that their citizens are best served by staying within the county system."
    Williams said he's not trying to dissuade voters from supporting a county effort to keep libraries open, merely reviewing all possible options.
    "I've had people tell me, so you're telling me not to vote for the levy? That's not what I'm telling folks. I'm telling them there are alternatives to the levy," the mayor said. "I'm just kind of irritated that the only solution, and this is what the library folks want us to believe, is the only solution we have is the pass the levy. And anybody with any common sense knows that that's not true."
    The workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Monday in Council chambers at City Hall. For details, call 664-3321.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.
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