Treasure Island City Commission continues talks over library funding
By Ryan Treacy
TREASURE ISLAND--On Tuesday night, more Treasure Island residents gave their opinions of the $100 fee they will have to pay in order to receive a library card.
“I’ve never met anybody in my life who would object a library or didn’t want to pay for a library,” said Treasure Island resident Rosie O’Conner. “It’s not that I can’t afford it. It’s just the ethics and the idea that a library is a special place.”
Currently, anyone living in Treasure Island will have to pay $100 if they want to use any of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative Libraries.
The $100 per family will be used to make up for the $107,000 that Treasure Island was not able to give to the library.
Treasure Island Commissioner Phil Collins explained that “The reason I wanted to revisit this is that I know it’s a very passionate issue.”
Collins, with figures from the Pinellas library system explained that 3600 citizens have used a Treasure Island library card in the past three years. He also went on to say that the U.S. Census Bureau reports that there is an average of 3.14 people in an American family. He stressed this fact “because this $100 dollar card isn’t per person, it’s per family.”
By dividing the 3600 citizens by the average amount of people per family, Collins roughly calculated that there are about 1146 individual library cards used by Treasure Island residents.
A few weeks ago, St. Petersburg Times reported that “Treasure Island has no plans to
reimburse its residents for the cost of library cards.” This could possibly change.
According to Collins, if all 1146 library cards are purchased, it will give the library almost $7,000 more than it needs. If this happens, the commission expressed interest in Treasure Island residents being reimbursed $50 back. The reimbursement program will only apply to those who can prove that they reside in Treasure Island.
“I think it’s a do-able compromise that will make everybody happy,” said Collins.
Not everyone is happy though. Fellow Commissioner Alan Bildz said that “you don’t put the burden on the tax payers; you put it on general funding.”
Treasure Island resident Paul Star agreed by commenting on the city using funds to build new boat slips for the city marina.
“I don’t think you need to be spending money on more boat slips when you can’t even afford to participate in the library,” said Star.
Gwenda Barnitz also expressed her opinion, saying “It shows the community would rather have clipped grass than expand the intellectual growth of its citizens.”
Bildz, along with Collins and Mayor of Treasure Island, Mary Maloof agreed that they will have a workshop in two weeks to talk about the reimbursement program as well as the overall library card issue. As of now though, it looks like the $100 dollar fee will have to be paid by Treasure Island residents if they want to use the library
B.C. Acton asked the commission why funds were not cut elsewhere. The commission did not have a definitive answer. Most of the residents spoke about times being tough, but thought that the library should still be free.
The last citizen to speak, Hugh Ruckdeschel said that the issue “should have been on a
workshop” already. Ruckdeschel brought up the idea that the Commission could amend the budget if they really wanted to.
He also added that the residents funding the library in Treasure Island “wouldn’t pass
first base with the city of St. Petersburg because you cannot simply select a few individuals.”
Mayor Mary Maloof: 547-4575 ext. 226
Commissioner Phil Collins: 360-8635
Commissioner Alan Bildz: 367-3936