Price vs. value

When I heard about the 120 or so taxpayers who showed up at the County Commissioners meeting on May 23 pleading to pay more in taxes to fully fund the schools budget, I recalled a scene from Crocodile Dundee wherein New York City street thugs brandish a switchblade in an attempt to rob the protagonist who hails from the Australian outback. He shows no fear, even as his leading lady whispers, “He’s got a knife!”

“That’s not a knife,” Mick Dundee scoffs as he pulls out what looks like a machete. “This is a knife.”

A hundred and twenty taxpayers, begging for a tax hike of as much as 4 cents per $100 valuation – $160 a year on your prototypical $400,000 home in Chapel Hill – puts the dozen supporters of the library and its 1-cent per $100 valuation tax increase who turned out for a recent Town Council meeting in perspective.

Though I bristle about people who live in “it’s only a couple of lattes a week” world, I can see why a 4-cent tax hike to keep up the quality of our public schools is an investment, whereas a $40-a-year tax increase to expand the library operating hours is a luxury.

Superior public schools, above all else, motivates buyers to pay a premium for houses inside the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district. Excellent schools ensures the strong value of what for most of us is our largest financial investment, and that benefits middle-class and working-class homeowners, especially. Homeownership is the most reliable way to build wealth for people not born into money or ensconced in high-paying jobs.

Residents lobbying to fully fund the school budget urged spending the money on personnel in the classroom, programs and capital improvements (a gym for one school, a science wing for another) to provide a well-rounded school experience for all children. Taxpayers who own more expensive homes would contribute more; those with lower-value assets would contribute less. And the money would benefit students from all walks of life.

With the current General Assembly defunding public education in favor of vouchers for private schools – and otherwise dismantling all agape principles of our society – local districts may have to pick up the slack in their own best interest. It’s too late to vote current representatives out of the state legislature, and I don’t believe the Moral Monday arrests will change the regressive bills set to pass.

Private school tuition costs thousands of dollars a year, even with a voucher. A tax hike of a fraction of that amount in order to give all students a quality education benefits rich and poor families alike.

Town Council’s budget talks continue at 6 p.m. tonight and Wednesday night in the library. Unlike at the library’s Tuesday night movies (tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., Skyfall, a James Bond thriller), you must bring your own popcorn.
– Nancy Oates

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46 Comments

  1. George C

     /  June 3, 2013

    Nancy,
    “whereas a $40-a-year tax increase to expand the library operating hours is a luxury.”
    If you think of the Library as a luxury I must have misunderstood your support for affordable housing in Chapel Hill because it’s exactly the people who need that housing who need more access to the Library.
    These folks may not be able to buy a book for their children every time they have a new homework assignment. Or they may not have the computer necessary to help their children with their homework assignments or to help themselves with job searches or resume generations. Restricting the hours of Library access hurts those who work, sometimes two jobs, the most.
    And it’s going to hurt the entire community soon. Usage (circulation) at the newly-expanded Library is up 30% over last year (and the move to the Mall never caused a drop in circulation over that at the Pritchard Park location). That 30% increase in books going out also means 30% more books coming in and those books have to be sorted and re-shelved. Just because the Library is open fewer hours (54 hours now versus the 68 hours before) doesn’t mean there is a proportional decrease in books being taken out. Instead it means that the staff has to do 30% more work (checking books out, sorting, re-shelving) in 20% less time. That actually translates into a 60% increase in circulation per hour the Library is open. Even with the Manager’s proposed increase in hours to 58 hours per week, the number of books that the Staff has to deal with will still be 50% more per hour than before the renovation.
    This dramatic increase is already taking a toll on the Staff. They are having to work tremendously hard just to keep books on the shelf (which, BTW, is not succeeding) and they no longer have the time to do the specific jobs they were trained for as educated Librarians which, not unexpectedly, can be quite demoralizing.
    The increase in hours back to the original 68 hours is not only about keeping the doors open – it is about having enough Staff to do a credible job without burning everyone out. Even if the Council goes back to the original 68 hours there will still be 30% more books to deal with. But at least the Staff will have a fighting chance.
    BTW, the funds necessary to go back to the original 68 hours would amount to <.5 cents on the tax rate. And that, like education, is an investment in our community.

  2. anonymous

     /  June 3, 2013

    Nancy you are right on with this post.

    I wonder why the BOCC can’t put this on the ballot e.g. raising the city schools tax , if they are afraid to raise property tax directly. Can they? anyone know?

  3. anonymous

     /  June 3, 2013

    @ George –

    until the ripoff of Chapel Hill Taxpayers for the library is ended (the amazing subsidy to residents of Carrboro and the county that the CH town council doesn’t have the votes to end) – I suspect a lot of people will be more lukewarm in their support of taxes for the library since 40% of the users aren’t paying fair shares for their use.) At least with the City Schools tax the service is only used by the property owners paying for it.

    I’m in favor of raising the CHCCS property tax for the schools, but not increasing the subsidy for the library for people of Carrboro and Hillsborough

  4. anonymous

     /  June 3, 2013

    and yes I realize that many people don’t have kids in the schools but having a great school system makes your house worth more.

    having a great library with limited or expanded hours has less impact on property values.

    If the Town dropped 40% of the users for the library, there would be more books available per person with shorter waiting lists, and they might be able to have fewer employees, so the “service level” might end up being no different for a CH taxpayer

  5. Nancy

     /  June 3, 2013

    George — Could volunteers handle the reshelving and other mundane tasks? Maybe offer community service credit to high school students? I’m sympathetic to staff burnout. So many companies in recent years have tried to maintain productivity while cutting staff to keep profit margins high and shareholders happy. At a recent Town Council meeting, Matt Czajkowski questioned the high operating costs of the library. Are there other things that could be done to lower operating costs? Having highly trained librarians shelving books seems a waste of resources.

  6. Don Evans

     /  June 3, 2013

    George

    As head cheerleader for the library expansion, surely you were aware that an expanded library would mean expanded costs. Yet you didn’t bring that up at all those presentations to the council advocating the expansion. Not one mention that the expansion would cost a bunch more.

    Only now do you find the need to bring up that topic. Just as Jim Ward and a majority of council members didn’t take the time to cost it all out. That’s just plain bad advocacy and management.

    Those poor librarians are forced to work 30 percent harder because you and the council didn’t think about the consequences of your advocacy. Seems to me that you and the legion of retirees who trooped to council meetings to bully the council into passing the library expansion should do the right thing and volunteer to shelve books.

  7. Fred Black

     /  June 3, 2013

    Nancy, you have missed what is happening in our community if you truly see these hours as a luxury.

    And please, let’s keep from confusing the issues. As long as Chapel Hill accepts money from Orange County, the citizens of OC can use the CHPL — that’s mandated. We decided not to adopt the pay for a usage card approach that the residents of other counties have to purchase. Question: how many cards at $65 must be purchased to equal $500,000? What are the chances of doing so.

    And as for OC reducing their expenses by adopting Mr. Czajkowski’s sarcastic and inappropriate recommendation, it is also not a problem solver. I expect more seriousness on this issue from elected leaders; hence I remain amazed but not surprised.

  8. Fred Black

     /  June 3, 2013

    Just not accurate, Don. It was discussed from the very beginning and there was a recommended tax increase.

    Town of Chapel Hill
    North Carolina

    Executive Summary

    Meeting Date: 10-15-2008
    Time: 7:00 PM

    AGENDA #7

    Title of Agenda Item: Library Expansion Project Update and Establishment of a Project Budget

    Background: The attached memoranda include background information on the Library expansion project and estimated project budget. They provide the Council an opportunity to:
    •Review the final design of the Chapel Hill Library expansion project
    •Consider the staff’s recommendation to proceed with utilizing the Construction Manager at Risk project delivery system
    •Review the cost implications and associated tax revenue issues associated with both construction and future Library operations, and
    •Establish an estimated budget for the project

    Staff Recommendation(s): That the Council adopt the attached resolution A authorizing the Town Manager to direct the Town’s design consultants to proceed with development of construction plans and specifications in preparation for bidding and award of construction contracts utilizing a Construction Manager at Risk; and that the Council adopt the attached resolution B establishing an estimated project budget of $16,515,374 and directing the Town Manager to prepare Town budgets with an increase of approximately 1.72 cents in 2009-10, and a cumulative increase of approximately 3.78 cents in 2010-11 to fund Library debt service and operating cost increases without affecting other Town services.

  9. Bonnie Hauser

     /  June 3, 2013

    As long as the question is framed – “which function are you willing to pay higher taxes for?” – the answer will be a tax increase. Elected officials know that schools are a good one – so school budgets are always left to explain budget shortfalls in the county. I guess fo the town its libraries.

    Of course, the school shortfall shows up after the commissioners funded their new meeting room and a host of other non- essential projects that have not been offered to taxpayers for cuts. that was before the state cuts came through.

    Where’s the discernment on taxes? As long as your pet project is funded, are you ok? Or is there interest in finding new ways to deliver better value to taxpayers?

  10. DOM

     /  June 3, 2013

    This town has too many needs and not enough taxes to pay for them. Until the citizens welcome more commercial and high-density residential options, we’ll be continually bitching at each other as to which needs are more important than others. I agree with George, the library plays too valuable a role in this town to get the short shrift, but I also agree our schools need more too. Do the math, folks, the only real way out of this dilemma is more growth.

  11. Many

     /  June 3, 2013

    The problem as I see it is not so much the staffing and hours but the $16,515,374 Gold Plated Cadillac building which makes the additional operational costs so painful.

    How much more service that George C describes above could be provided if the building was kept within say a 10 million dollar budget?

    What if a truly collaborative solution with all three towns and the county were implemented?

    What good is the library to the “folks may not be able to buy a book for their children every time they have a new homework assignment” that presumes you must drive to it? Where do those folks that George C so passionately describes live? Certainly not near the Library.

    Why couldn’t the existing library have been augmented with branches (e.g. University Mall)?

    It seems as if the right questions were not asked or if asked, not answered. The result is the “customers” George C describes were not considered except as an excuse for excess.

  12. Scott

     /  June 4, 2013

    Education and access to libraries (school, municipal, private, lending, reading and now the on-line resources) are the critical links to a better life and community and individual and cultural advancement. Should we spend more on those endeavors or more on recycling. I opt for schools and learning. I think everyone in this thread probably agrees. And the discussion and comments are basically about how much funding and are there other places or resources (volunteer or interns) that we can use without cost to us to cover the needed services. I trust we have all seen Red Adair’s famous quote: “If you think a professional is expensive, just wait till you hire an amateur.” The attacks on George and Fred or other citizens or elected officials because they advocate and support such spending is ridiculous. I (and you) pay taxes to support the services I want and need that the private sector does not do or does at too high a cost to be available to all. I (and you) also pay taxes for services I don’t use, but others do need and use. I don’t use the bus system often, but I willingly pay for it because it benefits me by removing a lot of vehicles from the road I do need to use. My daughter succeeded in college in great part because she did not go to what I consider the highly overrated Chapel Hill schools. Nevertheless, I fully support the added tax increase for it and the library as the most important investment we can make and if my subsidy raises the education and learning opportunities for those children with lesser financial and cultural resources. Lets get over this small picture fight that is focused on a couple pizzas a month and think about what our kids and their kids need to succeed.

  13. DOM

     /  June 4, 2013

    Scott –

    Though I often disagree with your point of view – Very well said!

  14. Scott

     /  June 4, 2013

    Dom, Thanks for reading. Interesting library take at following link.

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/06/designing-libraries-encourage-teens-loiter/5735/

  15. Terri Buckner

     /  June 4, 2013

    School budgets always seem to raise more emotion than any other issue in this community. Should the school system get everything they want? If not, where does the community draw the line?

    There is a lot of research to show the impacts of teacher pay (a stand-in for experience) and class size on student learning. But I’ve never seen anything that says a science wing or playing field is that critical to the goals of education. How do we differentiate between nice-to-have and critical need in these budgets where very few of us really understand the details?

    We also speak a great deal about equity and affordability in this community. Raising taxes further on an already stretched-thin citizenry may help the schools but what impact will it have on our current “un-affordable” status?

  16. Many

     /  June 4, 2013

    Scott,

    I don’t see any ad-hominem attacks, only disagreement with, and counterpoints to the “advocacy” you describe. I also see several different points of view on both sides of the spending issue along with suggestions on how things could be better in the context of new spending realities. Don’t you think it is worth examining the process in an effort to make better future decisions?

    I agree with Terri.

    The “highly overrated” Chapel Hill Schools and linkage to property values has far more to do with affluence, parental participation and class size than the ever increasing amount of money spent on administration and facilities.

    Are you suggesting people should just pay up and not speak up? You say you don’t feel the cost of tax increases personally and I am happy for you, however to many (pun intended) the excessive spending is not just an issue of a minor discretionary spending inconvenience. We agree that we all pay taxes for services we don’t use, but should we just spend money for the sake of spending it? Should we spend it without budgeting for the spending? Are there line items (e.g. the library) that are out of proportion with other services?

  17. JWJ

     /  June 4, 2013

    Ms. B: nice post.

    If the community believes the schools need more money, then one of two things has to happen. Either some other expense gets a true cut (transportation?) or property taxes go up.

    How about trying this gentleman’s idea (http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/02/orange-county-homes-need-to-be-affordable) of increasing the property tax rate the higher the value of the property? This community is definitely left of center and probably should have higher property tax rates. How about considering no increase on the property tax rate for those with a home value of $350K (I believe that is slightly above the median value), then for every $100K increase in tax assessed property value, the tax rate would go up by 25 basis points on that incremental property value?

    To Ms. Oates, you write “With the current General Assembly defunding public education in favor of vouchers for private schools – and otherwise dismantling all agape principles of our society…”

    Defunding public education, dismantling agape principles, really? The Governor is proposing $7.9B for K-12 spending. The NC Senate is proposing $7.85B. Both are about $250M-$300M MORE than what was actually spent in FY2011-2012 (http://www.wral.com/asset/news/state/nccapitol/2013/05/19/12463340/Senate_Budget_Comparison_May_19_2013.pdf)

    The voucher proposal is for about $100M or about 1.3% of K-12 funding to go to low income parents so that they would have a choice. Taxpayers provide vouchers to low income folks for groceries and housing, so the option of vouchers for school does not seem beyond the pale.

    Regardless, taking 1.3% of the total pool of K-12 funding AND spending it a different way, within the education arena, is not defunding to me. You certainly sound as if you are politically against low income parents having school choice, that is your business. However, in the past, I believe you have advocated for diversity in opinion/thought in the community. Using, in my opinion, hyperbolic phrasing against a program you politically disagree with, does not come across as welcoming diversity.

  18. George C

     /  June 4, 2013

    Many,
    You asked “Are there line items (e.g. the library) that are out of proportion with other services?”

    I expect that if folks responded to that question there would be a definite yes and about as many different targets for cuts as responses. You obviously feel the Library gets a disproportionate share of the pie but I would just like to point out that the Manager’s proposed budget for the Library’s operating expenses (which) would allow for 58 hours of open time) amounts to 2.72 % of the Town’s total operating budget. If the Library’s budget were to be increased to allow for the previous 68 hours of operating time it would still represent < 3% of the total budget. Of course, I'm not including the debt service on the new facility. That amounts to 1/4 of the Town's total debt service. With that added the total expenditures would be ~ 6.5% of the total budget. This is still less than public safety departments, transit and parks & recreation, all, of course, worthwhile public services themselves.

  19. Many

     /  June 4, 2013

    George C, yes you have illustrated my point with the debt service, thank you. I know it’s too late now, but I think those monies would have been much better spent providing the services you and Scott refer to; raising the education bar rather than the building roof.

    I do not believe that the library rises to the level of importance of public safety or public health.

    I read Wake County debit service/Capital budget plan through 2019 for 20+ libraries is ~8% of total debit service. (possibly an unfair comparison)

    I haven’t had the time to research the Wake budget totals, (it is very hard to read) but I strongly suspect Wake county libraries total less than 6.5%. I will grant you Chapel Hill appears not to be as badly out of whack as I suspected, except in the area of debt service.

  20. Terri Buckner

     /  June 4, 2013

    For those who are advocating for full funding of the library:

    3% of a $93M budget is $2.8M. Even at less than the full request, that’s more than the town spends on it’s public housing program, vehicle replacement program, or the planning department.

    Let’s say that we all agree that the $93M is the only funds available (meaning that we don’t agree to use the reserve funds). To fund any one area more than what is planned, another area has to be cut. What other town service/function should be cut to fully fund the library?

    I’d like to hear the same answer from those who want more funding for the schools. What areas within the county budget should be cut to make up for funding those areas that were cut from the state funding for schools?

  21. George C

     /  June 5, 2013

    Many,
    Just to put some numbers in perspective: even if the Library was to be funded for the full 68 hours (which would require about another $190,000), the Library’s budget, including the debt service, would be only about 2.15% of a Chapel Hill resident’s total tax bill (including the County’s portion & the CH school district). In comparison, the % of our totaltax bills that goes to schools, including the County schools but excluding the County’s payments to the OC campus of Durham Tech, is about 31%. I think education is a worthwhile investment in our future and so I support the schools. But the Library is also a worthwhile investment in education as well, by supplementing, in many cases to a great extent, our school libraries and carrying the burden for our summer reading programs.

  22. Many

     /  June 5, 2013

    George C, it is hard to argue against the value of a good library, so I won’t. The point I am making and continue to make is the capital cost, where that money might have been better spent, and how we avoid the apparent group think that occurred.

    It is also hard to argue against good schools. So I won’t. Again, the point I am making is that after a certain point there is little linkage between the capital improvements and the performance of the school.

    In fact, past a certain point there is a diminishing return on capital improvements in general. I suggest that point is quite a bit lower than money that is being spent on the Library and School buildings.

    Somehow we need to stop selling ourselves on just throwing money every time someone perceives a problem. We have to stop believing that more is always the solution. At some point someone needs to do the due diligence to understand the need rather than succumbing to the loudest speaker or the person with the most free time.

  23. Bonnie Hauser

     /  June 5, 2013

    Can someone clarify some numbers for me? The operating costs for the Chapel hill library have a county portion which is close to $500,000. Are you including that in your numbers?

    Also – Terri – what’s the $93 million? the town budget is $54 million. What’s the rest?

    We cant go backwards on the library – but it would help if some of you spoke out against an $8 million Carrboro library down the road a small improvement to the Cybrary might be great)

    We already spent $25 million on the Hillsborough and Chapel Hill libraries, and you’ll need 2 library cards. If we are going to spend a fortune, can’t we at least get first rate services.

    I fear that we are spending way too much money on architects and not enough on technology and integration -so we are under-enginerring services, and over building office space. Let’s not forget consultants!

    Let me try this differently. I can’t speak for the town, but in the county, after all the pet projects of the staff and commissioners are funded, the rest is left to the citizens to fight over. They like to make it about education. We should be questioning millions in planning and building office space – which has nothing to do with services. But we’re not given that choice.

  24. Don Evans

     /  June 5, 2013

    JWJ

    The school vouchers sure will come in handy for those poor folks. Never mind that the vouchers will not cover the entire cost of a year of private school, so those poor folks will have to pony up another couple thousand if they want to give their child a better educational opportunity.

    And never mind that the General Assembly will probably allow the 300 percent low-income limit to lapse in subsequent years, thereby opening the program to the more well-off folks who CAN afford to send their kids to private school.

    And while those poor folks are scraping together that extra couple thousand, let’s hope the increase in sale taxes on food and income increases don’t get in the way. Maybe their health care plans also will save them money since the GA doesn’t seem to be interested in the federal health care program Obama presented, which had demonstrated savings.

    And god forbid that the voucher program ends like the ones in Michigan and Florida, where corruption has crippled lawmakers’ efforts and resulted in worse student test scores than before the programs started.

    Yeah, those sound like great ideas to help out the poor. Because we all know that’s the first priority for our current General Assembly, right?

  25. Nancy

     /  June 5, 2013

    Bonnie — The cost of operating the renovated library does include the $483K from the county. The town estimated it would get $409K from the county, so that, along with the money already budgeted for library operating costs plus a half-cent tax hike, would keep the library open 58 hours a week. When council learned that the county contribution was much higher than expected, some council members lobbied to use it to keep the library open 60.5 hours a week, instead of reducing the amount of the tax increase.

  26. Nancy

     /  June 5, 2013

    JWJ — Don makes some good points underneath all his sarcasm. I’d add that a voucher system ultimately will lead to a stratified education system, and the poor will be the losers. Schools with tuition equal to 100% of the voucher won’t be as good as schools with tuition equal to voucher-plus-$2K. I expect that you’ll see for-profit schools popping up to soak up that voucher money, and parents who are less sophisticated or don’t have time to research the quality of various schools will be vulnerable to being taken advantage of. If we put all state education money into public schools, we’ll have more consistent quality for everyone. And can state voucher money be used toward religious schools? Or would that be a violation of church & state?

  27. Bonnie Hauser

     /  June 5, 2013

    Thanks Nancy – I was trying to understand George’s numbers about the library being 2.5%. So my first question was does that include the county subsidy to the town? The second was in the total – did he include the amount Chapel Hill residents pay for county libraries.

  28. Terri Buckner

     /  June 5, 2013

    Bonnie–the town’s budget is either $91M or $93M depending on whether you consider transfers. http://townofchapelhill.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=18880

  29. Bonnie Hauser

     /  June 5, 2013

    Thanks Terri – that’s helpful.

    If it wasn’t confusing enough. In the media, the county reports its entire budget ($186 million) including all revenue sources. The town reports general fund only ($54 million). The rest is state and federal funding and sales taxes, parking fees, and other revenue sources.

    I’m confused at a higher level!

  30. Terri Buckner

     /  June 6, 2013

    “The town reports general fund only ($54 million). The rest is state and federal funding and sales taxes, parking fees, and other revenue sources.”

    The revenues are the transfers (~$2M). The $37M difference between the $91M (full budget minus transfers) and the $54M general fund are other expenses (such as debt payment).

    57% of the total budget is staff salaries (roughly $52M or close to the size of the general fund). Some one came to the OWASA budget hearing and pointed out to us that while a 2.5% across the board salary increase doesn’t sound like very much, over the past 5 years it comes to a 10% increase while state employees haven’t even seen a 3% increase during that time frame. Cost of living certainly has not increased that much.

    It’s not popular, and will surely be labelled as conservative and mean-spirited, to question salary increases, but I agree with that speaker, there should be some degree of alignment between the taxpayers and staff, especially when there’s a tax increase on the table.

  31. Interesting to read about the benefits of wealth-building through home ownership, with a good school system contributing to the rising value of homes, on the heels of the affordable housing laments in previous posts.

  32. Terri Buckner

     /  June 7, 2013

    From Bonnie Hauser abover: “We cant go backwards on the library – but it would help if some of you spoke out against an $8 million Carrboro library down the road a small improvement to the Cybrary might be great)”

    There is no funding for an Orange County branch library in Carrboro in this year’s budget. The first year CIP funding would become available (per this year’s CIP plan) is 2015/2016.

  33. Many

     /  June 7, 2013

    Just curious; what is the objection to the consolidation of library operations and capital improvements within the county? Is it the same island mentality that demands the schools be segregated?

  34. anonymous

     /  June 7, 2013

    @Many
    Romney/Ryan carried the non-CHCCS part of Orange County. So there are two political geographies rammed into one County. It make no sense to try to represent a high tax desiring geographic area with a low tax geographic area into one school system. Which is why the only way going forward that CHCCS will ever get more money is by pushing for raising only THAT CHCCS tax. In the past the CHCCS school board has deferred but going forward when the BOCC refuses to raise taxes this time (as I predict) they will have to be very explicit or even request it go on the ballot (if legal).

    as far as consolidation, the main costs of schools are construction and employees. Consolidating them neither frees up empty space (which does not exist) nor reduces head count. So no cost benefit. At best you fire one superintendent but then must pay the new one more because its a bigger operation.

  35. JWJ

     /  June 7, 2013

    No thoughts from anybody on the suggestion of different property tax rates for different home values? Is it that bad of an idea? Cause if the schools can not make it without more money, then I don’t see how an increase in the property tax rate is avoided.

    Mr. Evans, if that is the way and manner in which you want to respond to someone that has a different policy viewpoint, then so be it. My opinion is that it is intolerant of differing policy viewpoints.

    I simply didn’t want the line “With the current General Assembly defunding public education in favor of vouchers for private schools” to go unchallenged as I thought that suggesting that the current General Assembly wanted to defund public education as nonsensical.

    I really enjoy reading this blog, the posts and the comments. I certainly don’t always agree, but believe I come away more informed about my local community.

  36. Fred Black

     /  June 7, 2013

    We have discussed at least a half dozen times here why our Town (as well as others) chose to leave their County/Regional Library systems. In the case of Chapel Hill, there was a study to address the concerns that Orange County was not in the position to provide the kind of library services citizens said they wanted. The CHPL website states:

    Pre-1958
    •Readers are served by University Library. The Mary Bayley Pratt Children’s Library (established in 1929 by local clubs and located in the elementary school) serves as both school and public library for children.

    1958
    •Chapel Hill Public Library established by the Board of Aldermen on the recommendation of a study by the Community Council, an organization of more than 60 local organizations concerned about local library resources.
    •The Pratt Library Board disbands, giving their funds to the new Public Library to help finance the purchase of children’s books.
    •Trustees name the children’s area the Mary Bayley Pratt Children’s Room.

    Note that Chapel Hill decided this knowing that they would tax themselves for the library, loose certain state funds, and if they took OC funds, all OC residents could use the facility. The decision was made knowing this because having a robust collection was the greater goal. Note also that CH was not the only place to do this.

  37. Bonnie

     /  June 7, 2013

    Terri – on library spending. – The county has $600,000 in this year’s capital budget for land for the Carrboro Library. That’s after losing $50,000 on a land deal that fell thru. Hard to understand how the county can buy land before they know what they want to build.

    Fred – here’s my question. In 2013, should leaders work to connect the library systems and share collections (including even the UNC library)? If Chapel Hill doesn’t want to be part of the county library system, how about the reverse? Is it possible for Chapel Hill to manage the county wide library system? There’s a lot of ways to do this but it only works if the stakeholders show up and talk about it. I’d like to see a Library Service Workgroup.

    Note to anonymous – there’s a lot more than one head to be saved if the schools merged -(think finances, payroll, IT, HR,etc) BUT – the politics are daunting, so maybe we can start with something easier like parks or libraries.

  38. Many

     /  June 7, 2013

    anonymous,

    Not sure what point you are trying to make or what the last presidential election has to do with the last 100 years of segregation (economic or racial). Not sure what the CHCCS coming to the county for increases year after year has to do with it either.

    My point is not political. It has a side effect on taxes, economics and cost. Primarily though, it is about the principal customer of the schools; the children and society at large and getting the most for the monies we spend: http://wunc.org/post/duke-researchers-say-economic-segregation-schools-rising

  39. Fred Black

     /  June 7, 2013

    Bonnie, there is sharing right now. Note that that the OC Library is part of a regional system. The issues you raise have been examined by at least three Library Task Forces and I believe you can find that info on the County Library web page.

    Please stop assuming that there have not been a lot of discussions already. Is the problem that you don’t like the outcomes?

  40. Many

     /  June 7, 2013

    Fred, 1958? Ancient history. Think outside the box for just a minute.

    “Orange County was not in the position to provide the kind of library services citizens said they wanted”…….Really?………. Really? Are you prepared to quantify that statement? What citizens? Who exactly decided a “robust collection” was the “Greater Goal”? Where is this study and who were it’s authors please?

    Exactly what is so great about current CH library? Cost? Inaccessibility? Exclusivity? Please, share it with me, Whatever the claim to fame is it certainly can’t be sharing or enlightenment.

    How many other libraries are within a 10 mile radius of the CH Library? How many other people could be served with +16 million dollars?

    Seriously…….

  41. Fred Black

     /  June 7, 2013

    Once again, I answer those I know. Of course you could do your own homework, it is all public record.

  42. Many

     /  June 7, 2013

    I’ll take that as an “Despite the public forum, and legitimate questions, I can’t provide a suitable response.” I thought so… Thank you.

  43. Bonnie

     /  June 7, 2013

    Fred – its sad to hear that there have been 3 studies, $25 million in new libraries and another $10 in the works and the libraries can’t share book or other resources. OC left the regional system and are right now planning their new library strategy and Ch Hill is not at the table.

    I guess your happy with a new library building and see no need for a forward looking library system – that could reach county wide and possibly even into the many school libraries ( and UNC)

    Back to Many’s question – what’s so great about that?

  44. Fred Black

     /  June 7, 2013

    When the three TFs were done we were part of the regional system. Suggest you read the reports to see what the issues were. It seems you would like me to be the face of all you dislike about libraries. I am not accepting that role; I simply wanted you to know that many, many people have been talking for many, many years. Hopefully, you can get the people to agree to a resolution that you prefer.

  45. Many

     /  June 7, 2013

    Not all about you Fred, Although I can see you like to think that……

    Honestly I do not dislike libraries. I use them. However I think they should be kept in perspective. Perspective is always limited by how much you know.

    Where’s the beef?

  46. anon.

     /  June 14, 2013

    Thank you, Fred, for providing this valuable historical perspective. Year after year, when polled, Chapel Hill citizens rank the library as their second most highly valued Town function, just after public safety. This is the reason Chapel Hillians passed the referendum for expansion in 2003; and, this is why they wish to maintain the level of hours and services now. (In fact, wording of the referendum forecast the desire and need for an expansion of services, too.)

    There is no diminution in use of or support for the library; since reopening, circulation has increased by 30%. And we’re asking existing staff–already trimmed since 2000–to handle that increase in fewer hours.

    The fiscally prudent can take heart:
    -Our library is already doing much more, with less;
    -Our citizens passed the bond anticipating some increase in operating costs to cover services; and
    -Our Council recognizes that the Town’s strong investment in the library’s resources–materials, technology, meeting rooms, and civic center–will only be well spent and responsibly allocated if its citizens are able to make use of them.

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