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Funding: Community : Control of Amenities

July 21, 1994

Three cheers to the people of Brentwood for taking the library issue in their own hands and creating a civic asset (July 17, cover story). It is truly refreshing to see a community join together to improve itself, particularly in the current political climate.

Other communities should take heed. Now that the professional politicians have consolidated control of public spending at the state and federal levels, new means of local funding are required to create local amenities. Communities, however, must carefully choose funding sources that can be protected from expropriation by vote-hungry politicians. Historically, the only safe sources are grants and user fees. Even targeted bond issues have a way of being diverted in our political economy (what did happen to that highway money?)

If they want libraries, residents of Malibu and Marina del Rey must first face the fact that their tax money has gone down the big government rat hole. Only then will they take the necessary steps to maintain and improve their libraries and other local facilities. On the other hand, localities not willing to support such public amenities should not be compelled to, as proposed in state Sen. David A. Roberti's bill. Each community should decide what it is willing to pay for and do so. The alternative is further loss of local control and higher taxes.

WILLIAM E. ELSWICK

Santa Monica

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