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Taxed by Cuts, Culver City OKs Library Tax : Government: Strong community support leads city to join property assessment district aimed at restoring county library services.

August 25, 1994|CAROL CHASTANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joining 12 other communities, Culver City has agreed to join a special taxing district to help restore library services that were cut during the recent county budget crisis.

The City Council on Monday voted 4 to 0 to join the so-called Community Facilities District. Councilman Steven Gourley was absent.

Under the plan, proposed by the County Board of Supervisors last month, property owners in cities covered by the county library system would be charged about $28.50 annually per parcel. Owners of multifamily residential property would pay about $21.38 per unit.

The supervisors, who waited to see how cities would take to the proposal, will formally consider the plan Tuesday. If approved, the charge will be reflected on November tax bills of property owners in 28 unincorporated communities that have county library branches and in those cities, including West Hollywood and Malibu, that have agreed to become a part of the district.

County library officials hope to raise $30 million to help pay for library operations, which were curtailed when the county cut money from the libraries to help make up a budget shortfall that resulted from state lawmakers' decision to balance California's budget by reallocating $600 million in property tax money that had gone to local governments.

The proposal apparently won strong community support in Culver City, whose branch had cut its operation from 63 hours, seven days a week, to 28 hours, four days a week.

The City Council chamber was packed with library supporters asking the council to join the district.

Mayor Albert Vera said City Hall logged 332 phones calls this month in favor; two calls opposed. A petition in favor of the special assessment signed by 68 Culver City residents was also delivered during the hearing.

Longtime resident Dorothy Steiner brought her tax bill to the meeting. "I pay over $200 (annually) for refuse collection," Steiner said. "I would surely pay $28.50 to keep the library open longer. I urge the council to vote for this."

Vera said that although he opposed any additional taxes, he was in favor of a levy that would support education "and Culver City's future."

Countywide, of the 52 cities served by the library system, only 13 cities had decided to join the district by Wednesday morning; 22 had opted out. Seven more decided to take no action. Still wrestling with the idea are 10 cities. The 28 unincorporated communities that have county library branches will automatically become part of the district.

Reuben said it is difficult to determine how the supervisors will vote Tuesday. "We're still confident their support is there," she said. Public comment on the matter is invited at the meeting before the vote is taken.

The support from communities such as Culver City has been heartening, Reuben said. "It's been a difficult decision for cities to make, given the short time frame they were given," she said.

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