Monday November 12, 2007
For Immediate release:
Louisville Metro Council
Contact: Tony Hyatt 574-4137/526-3622
The Democratic Caucus today affirmed its continued commitment to improving the Louisville Free Public Library System. The Caucus previously included the libraries as one of its top budget priorities in its submission to the Mayor in early 2007.
The 2007 library tax initiative was designed to create a dedicated revenue stream to finance the implementation of the complete library master plan.
After the vote last Tuesday, the Caucus believes it would be prudent for the Library Foundation Board and Library management to revisit the current master plan with a new focus on two areas; effectiveness and affordability. Any review should center on how to accelerate improvement given the budget constraints faced by Metro Louisville.
“When dealing with taxpayer dollars, fiscal responsibility should be the order of the day. The Republican proposal to issue $25,000,000 in bonds in 2008 and 2009 just won’t work,” says Majority Leader Jim King (D) 10. “Our City’s debt service model clearly shows a lack of capacity for additional debt service payments in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. I have to believe the intent of the pending bond ordinance was more about symbolism than pragmatism.”
In that context, the Caucus today issued the following six point plan for incrementally improving the library system consistent with sound fiscal practices and in the context of the Metro government's planning and budget environment.
That environment already incorporates existing and planned commitments for Museum Plaza, The Downtown Arena, and The Center City portion of Fourth Street Live.
“We need to take the emotion out of this process and look at scaling back the proposed library master plan,” says Budget Chair Madonna Flood (D) 24. “I certainly see no reason to change the library operating budget now. We need a plan that will work within the constraints of current revenue streams."
The six point plan set forth by the Caucus is the following:
1. The Executive Branch should review the entire Library Master Plan with its experts and make adjustments where appropriate and issue a modified plan.
2. The Executive Branch, including the library management and the Library Foundation Board, should make their case to the Metro Council Libraries Committee with respect to the need for the modified Master Plan. The Committee was formed for the purpose of assessing our library needs and helping facilitate the library's success.
3. The Executive Branch, with Council approval and advice, should implement any adjusted and agreed upon Master Plan in the context of the city’s comprehensive budgeting process focusing on small successes first such as the smaller branches rather than regional libraries.
4. The Council should be fully informed as to the effect of the library funding on other priorities of the Mayor and /or the Council.
5. The Council should move as quickly as possible to consider the administration's recommendations for library expansion.
6. Any proposal to issue bonds or increase the library operating budget should be held in abeyance until steps 1 though 4 are completed.