ViewPoints by Mayor Sue Noack: Tax to help fund streets, library

ViewPoints by Mayor Sue Noack: Tax to help fund streets, library

At the Aug. 1 City Council meeting, we voted to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot.

The increased revenue to the city will allow us to significantly improve residential streets, create new bike paths and sidewalks, reduce deferred maintenance on storm drains and streets, and build a new library.

If approved by Pleasant Hill voters this November, the measure would provide $4 million of additional funding each year for the city to make all of these vital improvements. The additional sales tax would end after 20 years.

No one, including me, likes to increase taxes, but sometimes it is necessary and prudent.

Pleasant Hill, as a result of state pullbacks and economic recession, faces about $15 million in deferred maintenance on streets and sidewalks, and about $9 million in deferred storm drain maintenance and needed upgrades.

In addition, we have more than $42 million in other unfunded capital improvement projects.

Addressing our deteriorating neighborhood streets now is extremely important as the costs to repair them later can more than double if allowed to deteriorate further.

The Pleasant Hill Library is 55 years old, has significant structural and other issues, and needs to be replaced.

While road and storm drain maintenance is important, it is not necessarily exciting. A new library on the other hand is something to get excited about.

What does the “library” of the future mean to you?

IMAGINE A NEW FACILITY

The Pleasant Hill Library, while providing traditional library services, also provides important programs and community activities. These programs stimulate creativity, learning and innovation.

Speaking from personal experience, we now have a very large telescope occupying a corner of our family room as a result of my husband and son attending an astronomy evening.

Other programs and special events include music, multimedia art and design, coding, robotics, book clubs, eco-sewing and Lego building.

Evening events such as Maker Mondays, Tinker Tuesdays and Night of 1,000 Inventions inspire hundreds of kids.

Attend one of Pleasant Hill’s famous Story Times and you will see what excites so many our young children (and parents)!

The Pleasant Hill Library, despite its age, attracts more visitors than any library branch in Contra Costa County. This is a result of the vision of its manager and staff and the participation of so many residents.

A new library will allow flexible space to expand its programs and reach out to residents, businesses and local groups in need of meeting spaces, conference rooms and state-of-the-art technology.

The new library would have an expanded children and family area with hands-on activities for learning; a separate teen area ensuring a safe and social environment while making after-school more fun for youth; an open floor plan with tens of thousands of collections; and a Friends of the Library Bookstore.

While these are just some of the features that we could see in a new Pleasant Hill Community Library, I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas on what you would like to see in a new facility. You can email me at mayor@pleasanthillca.org.

Of course, a new library will cost somewhere between $15 and $20 million, depending on the final size and design of the building.

In order make the new building a reality, we need residents to pass the sales tax measure this November which will give us the necessary funding for much of our deferred streets maintenance and the library facility.

Sue Noack is the mayor of Pleasant Hill. Contact her at snoack@pleasanthillca.org.