The San Mateo County Library System operates 12 library branches in the County. These branches, together with seven municipal (city-funded) libraries and three libraries, located in and funded by the Community College System, form the Peninsula Library System.
San Mateo County citizens who use municipal libraries also receive services from the San Mateo County Library System. However, they may not be aware of the San Mateo County services because this inter-linking system is normally transparent to the users.
In 1992, the State of California shifted property tax revenues to pay for other services, which diminished funding for the San Mateo County Library System. From 1992 to 1997, this loss amounted to an approximate average of $1.6 million per year. Since 1992, the San Mateo County Library System has been using its reserves to purchase new materials and to pay for staffing of county libraries. A funding crisis was temporarily averted in the 1996-1997 fiscal year by the County providing additional funding of $375,000. For the 1997-1998 fiscal year, another funding crisis was again resolved with County funding of $500,000
The San Mateo County 1996 Grand Jury recommended that the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors establish a library Joint Powers Authority (JPA) for all San Mateo County libraries.
The San Mateo County 1997 Grand Jury restated the recommendation for a JPA, and for its members to identify sources of revenue to provide service levels at the San Mateo County Libraries equal to that of municipal libraries in the County
Libraries and timely access to them are a vital component of the quality of life in any community. Reliable studies and testimony by educators verify the importance of library access for both young and old. Now more than ever, libraries provide a safe place to study for a young generation that is often comprised of latch-key children.
Because of modifications in the JPA agreement, the anticipated reorganization target date of April 1998 has not been realized.
Adequate funding remains a key component for a successful JPA for the County libraries. To address this funding crisis, the San Mateo County Manager is recommending to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors a five year guarantee allocating $500,000 per budget year to the San Mateo County Library System.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved, on August 18, 1998, a resolution for a Joint Powers Agreement. As of that date, not all of the relevant cities had signed the Agreement. Future modifications of fair-funding participation by these cities are expected.
The San Mateo County 1998 Grand Jury commends the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for supporting the library Joint Powers Authority by voting to allocate additional funds of $500,000 for fiscal year 1998-1999.
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|Recommendation 17: The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should accept the recommendation of the San Mateo County Manager to continue allocating at least $500,000 per budget year to the San Mateo County Library System. This budgetary allocation is needed to maintain service levels and library access hours equal to similar sized counties and municipal libraries in the County. This allocation should continue until alternative sources of revenues have been identified and committed.|
|Recommendation 18: The library Joint Powers Authority should identify, by March 1999, alternative revenue sources for the San Mateo County Library System.|
|Recommendation 19: The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury should monitor the progress of the above recommendations.|