Riverbank voters at election polls next Tuesday might be surprised to find just one measure on the ballot, but it’s an important issue for Stanislaus County Libraries, including the Florence Bessac Branch here in town.
The ballot measure to be decided on here is Measure S, with a vote in favor extending the one-eighth of a penny sales tax that provides the majority of county library funding, according to supporters.
They stress that this is not a new tax, merely an extension of a tax county consumers have already been paying.
In addition to campaign mailers, supporters of the library have created a website: www.savestanislauslibraries.org, where they have their corroborating information.
“Your vote in November, 2017 will be critical for Stanislaus County libraries,” proponents say.
According to their information, “The one-eighth of a penny Library Sales Tax that funds our libraries is expiring and will be on the ballot for renewal. Without this money – which provides over 80 percent of the library’s funding – the impact on every library in the county will be devastating. Many branches will close.”
By law, supporters add, these revenues can only be used for library services. They can’t be taken entities including the state, the county, or diverted to other uses. An independent citizens’ oversight committee also ensures funds are “being spent in the way the voters approved.”
Officials report that library usage is up in the county, with nearly 415,000 county residents possessing library cards.
The library statistics show that children, teens, seniors, businesses and veterans all use the local libraries, where they have free access to nearly 700,000 books and publications, DVDs, CDs, online databases, computers and Wi-Fi.
Supporters include all five members of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, including Kristin Olsen, representing Riverbank and Oakdale in District 1.
Other officials in favor include Sheriff Adam Christianson and District Attorney Birgit Fladager.
A wide cross section of individuals, from education, business, government, libraries, community service organizations, unions and other entities across the county, also have signed on in support of the measure. Many of them are listed on the website.
The City of Riverbank is on the list of cities supporting the ‘Yes’ vote on Tuesday.
Passage requires approval by two-thirds of voters.
Meanwhile, some voters in Riverbank will also be involved in the Oakdale Irrigation District race on the November ballot. There are two contested races – one in OID Division 2 that includes portions of both Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties and one in Division 5 – an area which includes a portion of rural Riverbank.
Voters in the Riverbank area included in the OID boundaries will choose between candidates Grover Francis and Brad DeBoer, both seeking to fill the Division 5 post. Francis previously served on the panel, from 1998 to 2001, while DeBoer, an almond farmer who also has owned his own landscaping business, is running for the OID board for the first time. The two will battle for the seat vacated by former board member Gary Osmundson, who resigned when he moved out of the district.
News Editor Marg Jackson contributed to this report.