The fate of Fresno County libraries rests in voters’ hands. Measure B would extend an eighth of a cent sales tax. The money makes up over half of the library system's annual budget. Wednesday, supporters of the measure gathered to spread the word that if the tax fails, half of the 36 libraries in the county would likely close. In addition, half the employees would be laid off.
Rows of computers and shelves of books are utilized at the main branch of the Fresno County Free Library. Callita Smith has a bag full of items that she checked out for her young daughter. She's one of many who rely on the library for services.
Supporters of Measure B want voters to extend a sales tax to keep doors open. Leaders from every city in Fresno County are for the tax.
“Measure B is imperative to help with literacy and English as a second language. And I have some experience with English as a second language. I know how tough it is,” said Blong Xiong, councilmember in Fresno.
It may be tough to pass Measure B because it requires a two thirds vote. There's no organized opposition, but Chloe Foster wrote the argument against it in sample ballots. It says, in part:
"We cannot afford a local Library Sales Tax for another 16 years, which duplicates the function of our schools."
Fresno County Supervisor Susan Anderson argues says the impact to wallets is minimal.
“This is not a new tax, this is a continuation of a tax that the voters have been paying since 1998 and it's only an eighth of a cent,” said Anderson.
The tax generates about $13 million each year, just over half of the library's budget. If Measure B fails, which libraries would close has not been decided. Frequent visitors hope it doesn't come to that.
“Yes I want it to pass so we won't lose our libraries,” said Smith.
The tax would be in effect for 16 years. According to the opposition, it amounts to about $100 per year for a family of four.