Library cost absurd

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126

I was disturbed by your March 25 “News Brief” titled “Malibu Library Renovation to begin June 1.” As a frequent visitor to the library, I have been puzzled by the impending renovation. Particularly in these days of financial woe, such a renovation seemed gluttonous. Now I read in your newspaper that the cost of this renovation will be $5.6 million and that the renovation will have the library closed for 16 months. This makes no sense at any rational level.

First of all, $5.6 million is a huge number in terms of local educational finance. It is more than the budget cuts in SMMUSD in 2009-2010, more than the funds projected to be raised by the Measure A tax proposal, and it is nearly half of the total projected SMMUSD shortfall over the next year and a half. The proposed impact of SMMUSD budget cuts include “up to 75 of our 580 teachers, increase class sizes by 30 percent, lay off counselors and librarians, close libraries and cut back instruction in science, math, reading, writing, art and music.” How irresponsible has our government become when a frivolous library renovation goes ahead though the same money spent on education could relieve half of the impending educational shortfall?

To make matters worse, this renovation will involve closing the library for 16 months. So we get a library renovation when the money could either eliminate the need for Measure A or, combined with a successful Measure A, completely eliminate the need for cuts in SMMUSD next year and the library is unavailable to us for well over a year. Really?

Here’s another way to look at the irresponsibility of it. The library renovation will cost us the same as Measure A is expected to raise. This implies that the library renovation costs the same as a $198 per parcel tax on every parcel in the SMMUSD area. That’s $1,000 or more per parcel in Malibu or $337 for each of Malibu’s 15,000 residents.

Who in the heck authorized this?

Craig Foster