Library boosters in Ventura plan to seek signatures for a petition they hope will convince the City Council to approve a $35 annual tax to pay for more hours at three city branches.
The San Buenaventura Friends of the Library and the city's library advisory committee have drawn up a number of petitions and plan to start gathering signatures in favor of the tax as soon as next week.
"Thirty-five dollars is not very much," said Martin Rooney, a library advisory board member and past president of the Friends of the Library group. "If you have any children, they're certainly going to need libraries."
The boosters hope to convince the City Council to establish an assessment district that would tax individual property owners. The money would go directly toward the three county library branches in Ventura.
Group members estimate the tax would generate at least $1 million a year. The county library budget has been slashed from more than $10 million in 1992 to about $6 million this year, according to group spokeswoman Trish Cavanaugh.
"The value of the Friends' drive is to find out if this is what people want to do," Cavanaugh said. "They want to see if there's support for the initiative, and the City Council does too."
Mayor Tom Buford said he supports the petition drive, but is reserving judgment on the tax until he gets more community input.
"There's obviously strong support in the community for libraries," Buford said Thursday.
"I'd certainly support putting it on the ballot," he said. "But under the circumstances of what's going on in the county, I'm not sure (a library tax) is realistic."