Earlier this week, I wrote about the city’s library plans and how some of the expansions in the 2002 plan have crept along while the library budget has dwindled. As the city inches along on building libraries, it leaves open the question of where it will find money to run the branches if they actually get built and keep existing branches open.
It turns out that city staffers are now in the early stages of examining all the building projects in the city’s pipeline.
Mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing told me yesterday that city officials are weighing whether it makes sense to move forward with them in light of the city’s budget woes. That includes not only libraries, but everything in the city’s capital improvement plan, such as fire stations and storage facilities.
“We are looking at the big picture of our facilities, all facilities, to find out which ones will affect operational costs and to determine whether or not moving forward with them would still be cost effective,” Laing said.
She said there may be areas where it makes sense to move forward, such as if the city will lose a grant. Those will be weighed against the increased costs of with running new facilities, Laing said.
The city’s independent budget analyst, Andrea Tevlin, noted in a recent report that the new Logan Heights library, two fire stations and several park and recreation facilities are slated to come online during the next budget year, which could cost the city more than $11.7 million to run and maintain.
Repeating a concern she’s raised in previous years, Tevlin says city officials should seriously consider whether it makes sense to open new facilities at the same time existing services are being cut. The report states:
When additional resources are not available, the costs associated with new facilities often become a trade-off, requiring reduced service levels for existing facilities and/or