Saturday, September 15, 2012

Library Closed... Forever?

Last month, we discussed the dire straits that Henderson Libraries have fallen into. Later that month, I got a first hand glimpse of how dire those straits have truly become.

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As you can see above, the Paseo Verde Library was not ready for the recent round of Arizona Monsoon storms. Because of the leaky roof, not only was a large chunk of floor space closed off, but even some bookshelves had to be tarped over while the printers had to be shut down! Yes, believe it or not, this is the new reality of Henderson's flagship library.

And that's not all. All Henderson libraries will be closed on Mondays starting next month. Staff cuts have already taken a toll. And as I alluded to above, structural maintenance hasn't been able to keep up with increased use in the last decade.

That's why the "Rescue My Library" campaign is asking Henderson voters for just $7 per year per $100,000 in home value. No really, it's just that little. And for that little, Henderson Libraries will just be able to maintain current library locations and services.

Since all Clark County libraries outside North Las Vegas are funded directly by property taxes and state C-Tax revenue, the City of Henderson can't provide more city funding for the libraries. And since private fundraising has not been able to keep up with the community's needs, that's why Henderson Libraries have been backed into this corner.

So now, the future of not just the local libraries, but also of the greater community, rests in voters' hands. Do we want closed libraries? And do we want the remaining open libraries to continue to suffer from leaking roofs and even shorter hours? Throughout the year, we've discussed how tax policy in this state is about to change dramatically with the increased use of "ballot box budgeting". We'll see a major test this fall in Henderson.

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