Pasco County Commissioners voted Feb. 19 to allow libraries to set their own hours, but the action likely didn’t go far enough for one board member.
Commissioner Jack Mariano wants the county to revisit its 40-hour-a-week policy for libraries. He also wants to see Pasco do away with many of the park fees it enacted when budget constraints made it necessary to scale back on costs and increase revenues.
Tuesday’s action didn’t extend library hours. Instead commissioners gave their approval for libraries like the Land O’ Lakes branch to adjust their hours within that set 40 a week allowed since the board scaled back in 2006.
“We’re getting requests from the communities to have us open at night more often,” Nancy Fredericks, chair of the library system’s leadership team told commissioners Feb. 19. “(We want to) readjust to meet the community’s needs.”
Commissioners ultimately granted Fredericks permission to adjust hours at local branches with instructions to provide the public with two weeks’ notice in advance.
Mariano, however, has been pushing to have the county set aside more money in next year’s budget to expand library hours beyond 40 and to remove some of the fees residents are charged to use the area’s parks.
“We put too much money into reserves instead of keeping these services up,” Mariano said during an interview with Patch. “It’s a huge asset we have I want to capitalize on.”
During the commission’s Feb. 5 meeting, Mariano questioned the reserve amounts set in the county’s strategic plan and said adding more funding for parks and libraries would help Pasco live up to its desire to become a “premier county.”
“Part of the thing is we’re talking about turning ourselves into a premier county and premier to me means you need to meet (the need) on services,” he said. “It’s a great quality of life item.”
Mariano estimates it would only cost a few dollars per home on the tax rolls to extend library hours and do away with many of the park fees, such as the $2 parking fee charged at many of the county’s parks.
It’s unclear whether the commission will take up the issue when it begins working on a budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Mariano, however, wants to get started now and “steer a direction forward.”
Stay with Patch for updates on any changes to the Land O' Lakes Library's schedule as they are announced.
Do you agree with Commissioner Mariano? Should the Land O’ Lakes Library be open for more than 40 hours? Is it time to remove some of the fees charged at parks? Share your thoughts in the comments section.