Letter to the Editor
CONDITIONAL VERBAL SUPPORT FOR THE UPCOMING MOUNTAIN VIEW MO ½% SALES TAX VOTE
I am writing to clarify some thoughts others may erroneously have regarding the upcoming April vote in the City of Mountain View for a ½% sales tax increase.
Some personal background: I am a long-time resident of southern Shannon County so I will not be voting, but I am a volunteer member of the Mtn View Library Advisory Board and the Friends of the Library Board so I have a vested interest in anything that affects the Mtn View Library. Also, I spent over 16 years in health care at the Mercy Mtn View and Birch Tree Clinics and continue to shop weekly in Mtn View’s stores, get my car serviced and washed in Mtn View, and dine there. So the increased sales tax will directly affect me.
The sales tax increase is very needed for repairs to the swimming pool located at Wayside Park. This pool has continued to be the site for safe, supervised swimming, for training to be a lifeguard and to provide summer jobs for high schools and college students, for opportunities to perform on the swim team. Over the years the pool repairs have been piecemeal and are no longer safe, healthy, or functional. Thus, the need for funds to make significant repairs.
So why the “CONDITIONAL VERBAL SUPPORT” for the upcoming sales tax vote? Because the revenue generated will NOT be allocated to provide funds for the library. Those who use the library facility should be very aware of this fact, that only revenue “crumbs left on the floor” will make their way to help the library’s budget.
During the past year, the library has operated on about half the designated 2020-2021 budget. Every financial request to the City Council has been pretty much denied. The MV Public Library risked losing all its grant funding for its eBooks and interlibrary loads recently when the City Council arbitrarily decided to increase the library card fees especially for people living outside the Mtn View city area. This would have made the library no longer a public resource and violated terms on the grants. The exceptional fees, jumping from $3 one-time-only to a $20 annually, have not been rescinded by the City Council although fees for city residents have recently been reduced to the original. Since the Mtn View library is the only reading resource for miles eastward in an area with 79% illiteracy, the annual fee has stifled library use by so many, especially young families.
Computer use fees also jumped to include log-on and hourly fees. The computers are antiquated, but the grant proposal for newer machines was hatcheted by the City Council because of the need to provide a small percentage to match the grant. Many people in our area do NOT have computers, internet service, or the knowledge of how to use them. They were coming to the library for technical support as they applied for jobs online, did research or training they needed for classes or employment, or ordered items not available locally.
The Mountain View Public Library is a haven for many. Our local elderly, most on limited income, used to fill the broad table in the back of the building daily where they would read local and other newspapers. The City Council vetoed renewing the Springfield “News Leader” because of the cost and told many that the folks who were reading them daily could order their own subscriptions or pay to read them online. How sad to lose another valuable resource.
The library recently lost a favorite full-time assistant librarian to another job. Since then, two very energetic, intelligent, motivated and loyal young ladies have been hired BUT on a part-time status with minimal hourly pay and no benefits. They continue because they love this library and head librarian and the patrons they help and the children they reach through weekly Story Time and, soon, a weekly gardening program sponsored by the Mountain View Garden Club. They need full-time employment and benefits in order to keep them onboard.
When the citizens of Mountain View go to the polls, please consider what this new ½% sales tax offers to your city and what it DOES NOT offer.
Sincerely, Cora Thompson