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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Re: sheriff’s/council’s proposal to “re-dedicate” a portion of library funds

Re: sheriff’s/council’s proposal to “re-dedicate” a portion of library funds

This proposal would fully take half of the library’s funds for a new jail, and I am very much opposed to this endeavor.

First, if the sheriff wants to build a new jail, he should go out and find funding on his own, (bonds, grants, donations, car washes - whatever) without asking any entity in the parish to hand over funds simply because they exist. 

It seems rather interesting that the sheriff’s office is not publically seeking monies, in a vote to the public, from the Levee Board, Water District, or Port Commission.

What do you think those entities would have to say about that?

I contend, like the library system, they would say that their funds exist for their needs and not as part of some piggy back concept.

Also, the sheriff can call for an election at any time. Why is the parish council being called upon to act on his behalf?

The library has a budget, which is increasingly utilized. In the past and currently, library management has wisely planned, used, and even managed to have reserve and contingency funds, as all entities (in theory) should.

Besides obvious negative results in exhausting funding, the use of library money to house jailers is questionable.  Why should the money be used for that purpose? One has nothing to do with the other!

Certainly, the existing jail should be upgraded, perhaps enlarged to ensure adequate space for inmates now, with some outlook to the future.

A possible addition next to the jail would handle this. 

I do not and cannot ever support additional space in excess of what is reasonably needed for the future, not on the library’s dime. 

I recently heard on a TV broadcast that Orleans Parish Jail is not being fully utilized and has empty beds.  It seems like they could help with “overflow” inmates and use already existing space.

One point erroneously made by certain people advocating the jail is that the library has a $12 million surplus.  No, but they do have contingency funds, some of which are not collected via millage, and legally those funds must be used as dedicated. These existing funds have been part of the building program, general maintenance, etc. It is not “surplus” and it is for the continuation of the library’s ongoing community services and usage, period.

To wit: in the past, the library was fiscally responsible and did not bond out any costs for building because they PLANNED AND SAVED.

In addition, please recall that the library rolled back 2 mills since 2006, (when some goals had been met), thereby returning the public’s money to them. That shows sound and fair practices on the community’s behalf.

The library system has a budget for 2014. The current millage helps the system to continuously improve and meet the state minimum standards, which they are obligated to do.  With cuts, many years of careful planning will be affected. Mandated standards will not be met. The library achieved, with no help from the sheriff’s office, their obligated, required state status. 

Gee, is it fair for the sheriff to interrupt or even set back that for a new jail? How does that look? 

Patrons ultimately benefit from their decision to continue supporting the library’s financial needs thru millage, thereby meeting their personal needs, too.

I could go on and on but I will conclude with this:

Dear Community Member,

If you or your family have never been to the library and availed yourself to its technology, educational implements, classes, crafts, art exhibits, children and senior programs, emergency hub and enrollment services, cultural events and meeting areas, I encourage you to do so.  This place is for you!   Every staff member is eager and willing to make your experience there happy and purposeful!

The library system is an asset to this community!

And please, community friends, don’t be fooled by rhetoric spewed by some who seem to think they can take away for what this community voted and deserves!

That’s not a good plan for us!

Please support your library.  It’s one of the best features of this parish, and deservedly it should remain that way!!