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Ballot measure in works for vital San Francisco library funding

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Ahsha Safai Monday announced a charter amendment that, if approved, would give voters the option to renew vital library funding. 

The charter amendment is a first step in proposing a ballot measure for the Nov. 8 election. Voters would then decide if they want to renew The City’s Library Preservation Fund, the primary funding source for library operations, services and capital projects.

Voters first approved the fund in 1994, which is sourced from a baseline budget equal to less than 2 percent of The City’s overall budget, in addition to $0.025 cents collected from property tax on each $100 assessed value. San Franciscans chose to renew the fund in 2007 — it is currently set to expire June 30, 2023.

Officials said the preservation fund makes up 95 percent of the San Francisco Library budget.

If passed by voters, the next renewal will be good for 25 years, an increase from the current 15-year term. The ballot measure is also expected to address standard weekly service hours.

In a statement, City Librarian Michael Lambert said the funding has been used to create new facilities, programming and services, making the San Francisco Public Library one of the nation’s premier urban library systems.

Lambert added:

“Over the past two decades, the dedicated funding has allowed us to upgrade our beloved neighborhood libraries and enhance library services to the community. Renewal of the LPF would secure the future of the San Francisco Public Library for generations to come, and further our mission to help San Franciscans to live their best lives.”

SFPL Commission President Connie Wolf noted ways in which the library system played essential roles at the height of the Covid-19 shutdowns, with staff shifted to pandemic-related duties and facilities opened to provide remote learning space for youth. 

Wolf said in a statement:

“No matter what challenges we face in the future, the renewal of the Library Preservation Fund will guarantee that the Library can continue to wrap its arms around the residents and workers of this City to help them succeed in their life journeys.”

The charter amendment requires approval by Board of Supervisors before appearing on the November ballot. That process is expected to take place this summer.

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