Saturday, December 1, 2012
On Dec. 31, rural residents of Fire Districts 4 and 8 will no longer have access to the Walla Walla Public Library unless they pay the city a $68 per family fee.
The Rural Library District would be hard pressed to complete its proposed library in 2013. In the meantime, county residents would have access only to the branch library at the Plaza.
If RLD Board members really care about their constituents, how can they let them do without full library services? The least the RLD Board could do is to contribute an adequate sum to the Walla Walla Public Library budget for 2013 so county residents could continue to use its services. They did, after all, pay their designated library tax so they could enjoy full library services.
I continue to be baffled at how the five members of the RLD Board -- appointed, not elected -- can decide to spend the accumulated savings of the Rural Library District to build a new library, without ever asking their constituents if they would prefer to build a new library or to work with the Walla Walla Public Library toward developing a really outstanding facility.
Last summer at an RLD meeting, the RLD Board acknowledged it never directly asked its constituents if they wanted a new building. When I asked if the board could do such a survey at that time, its members told me the decision-making process was closed.
Now the RLD is proposing to take out a loan for the construction of its new county library! Several generations will have to pay off that debt. How on Earth can five unelected officials have the authority to make such a decision without consulting their constituents?
When firefighers want a new fire station, school officials want a new building or citizens want a swimming pool, they have to ask the voters if they are willing to finance it.
I urge the members of the RLD Board to pay a proportional amount to the city library for at least one more year until future plans are finalized.
I urge our legislators to replace the present system of county commissioners appointing the members of the RLD Board with a system where they are elected. Also needed are laws requiring voter approval for large expenditures or for incurring debt.