As a local resident of Juneau, I sent an email to the Assembly, asking members to oppose any cuts to the library outreach budget that might be recommended by the Finance Committee. However, the Assembly Finance Committee meeting planned for last night was cancelled, apparently due to lack of a quorum, so unless an amendment to the budget comes up at Monday’s Assembly meeting, it looks like the library’s outreach budget is going to be OK this year.
I want to point out and publicly appreciate the thoughtful replies I received from several Assembly members, which I have excerpted below. It was good to see their commitment to interacting with concerned residents.
- Mayor Koelsch: “As far as I know library community outreach programs are not in danger of being cut for this budget cycle. The library outreach program information was requested and presented in past finance meetings and then never acted upon. The main purpose for the cancelled Wednesday Finance meeting was to talk about how this year’s budget process went and how it can be better next year. I do not expect amendments to the 2018 budget (and in particular the library budget) to be presented at Monday budget hearing.”
- Assemblymember Kiehl: “I think cutting story hour or other library outreach would be unwise. I thought we’d put the idea to bed with our committee work on the budget, and I was disappointed to see it come up again. I can’t predict whether anyone will propose amendments when it comes up for final action on June 5, but I’d oppose this one.”
- Assemblymember White: “Frankly, I do not believe the support was there. However, I must say that the assembly will face some difficult choices next year, so we ask everyone to keep their eyes open for efficiencies and be prepared for some really difficult discussions if the outlook doesn’t change.”
- Assemblymember Gladziszewski: “I’m glad that it seems to be off the table now (though nothing is truly over until the budget is passed and that’ll be Monday night). I certainly did not and would not support such a cut. As you know, the libraries are already not lavishly funded and they do much with what they have.”
A society’s values are reflected in its spending, and I hope that Monday’s Assembly meeting will be well attended, because a budget is really a statement about what we think is important.
Opinions in this article are those of the author and do not represent official positions of TongassDemocrats.com, the Tongass Democrats, or anyone other than the author.