Monday, June 6, 2011

Flint Journal Editorial Board: Take another look at library consolidation

Our Voice: Time to take another look at consolidating library systems in Genesee County. (Flint Journal, 6/5/2011)

Excerpt: Carolyn Nash, who heads up the Genesee District Library, said past figures show only a “small savings.”

Kay Schwartz, the director of the Flint Public Library, agreed. She said the 2002 study found consolidation could save 5 percent to 7 percent, an amount that would be less now, thanks to budget cuts.

“Any talk we hear about merging the two library systems comes from people who were not involved in the study and the public meetings back in 2002, so aren’t perhaps fully informed,” Schwartz said.
Even assuming she is right, no one is “fully informed” now when it comes to the potential savings and benefits of a combined system. Nearly a decade has passed since such a proposal was last explored.

Since the last try, the county, in particular the city of Flint, has lost population and seen its tax base erode to the point that even essential services such as public safety have had to be trimmed.

The county has closed buildings and laid off scores of workers to balance its budget. The city, meanwhile, is swimming in so much red ink its leaders went to the state and received permission to sell $8 million in budget-balancing bonds.

We also now have a governor who is encouraging and rewarding communities that consolidate and share services to get the most bang for their buck.

Despite this, the city and county continue to be at loggerheads when it comes agreeing on the most basic things.

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