County librarian to address gap in library funding versus spending

For the second time since city officials realized Malibu taxpayers were feeding far more into the library system than they received back in services, the county librarian will address the public.

By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times

County librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd will give a public presentation at Monday’s City Council meeting to address the gap between the amount Malibu pays in taxes to the county library and the amount the local library receives in return.

She is expected to give an update on the county library’s policy for spending tax dollars. The current policy allows the county to spend each city’s taxes anywhere in the county, but Todd said in August letter to a Malibu lawyer that she would recommend the county’s policy to be changed so that each city’s taxes are spent on its own library.

The current policy allowed the county to spend nearly half a million dollars of Malibu taxes in other cities last year.

Council Member Pamela Conley Ulich, who began investigating library finances last spring when she noticed that the Agoura Hills Library seemed to have better services than Malibu’s, said a meeting she attended last week with Todd, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and other county officials from Yaroslavsky’s office made her optimistic about future library finances.

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“I think we’re going to be able to work with them to assess what Malibu needs in terms of our library services,” Conley Ulich said.

She said she was “optimistic that we’ll be able to come to an agreement” to assure that in the future, Malibu tax dollars are spent on its own library instead of being spread around the county.

Nancy Mahr, the county library’s public information officer, said a revised tax policy was in the works but not yet finalized. “I know that’s the direction they’re going, to see that some or all of the funds will be used for Malibu services,” she said. Mahr said that if a new policy were finalized, county and city officials would decide when it would go into effect.

Todd had stated in her August letter to Malibu lawyer Joan Lavine that the county library would not repay the $443,138 collected from but not spent in Malibu last year, but Conley Ulich said a decision had not been made.

“Whether they’re going to make up for it monetarily, we’ll see,” she said.

Regardless of whether the city regains its back funds, the Malibu Library will have more money to spend on services next year because this is the last year the city owes $107,000 to repay the county for constructing the building.

Conley Ulich said she hoped the analysis on library funds conducted by City Treasurer Pete Lippman would be ready for public release by Monday’s council meeting.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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