City may weigh library measure 

This fiscal year, the city plans on investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into planning for a new library, but step one is testing the waters to determine whether San Bruno voters would shell out the funds for a much-needed facility.

Before moving much further on planning and design, Library Services Director Terry Jackson recommended that the city retain a pollster to ask San Bruno residents what projects they would pay for — by a parcel tax, bond issue or some other public financing mechanism — and how much they would pay for them.

"We’re going to need millions of dollars that isn’t in the city coffers right now," Jackson said.

The San Bruno City Council this week approved the survey, which would cost slightly more than $48,000, to start the process off. The firm chosen to conduct the survey, Godbe Research, has extensive experience in library financing issues, Jackson said.

Should the survey yield positive results, this would be the city’s second try for a library measure. Voters in 2001 turned down Measure D, a $14 million bond meant to fund a new library and community center at the current civic center plaza.

The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass, but only came away with 57 percent approval.

City Manager Connie Jackson said that there were a number of lessons learned from that experience.

Among other problems, a lack of specifics about a proposed spot on San Mateo Avenue contributed to the bond’s 57-percent approval. Bond measures require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Councilman Jim Ruane said it’s uncertain whether a ballot would go to voters this year, but securing funding at some point for the project remains a very high priority for the city.

"We really have to have a new library in the community, I hear it from everyone all the time," Ruane said.

The current library, located at 701 Angus Ave., was built in 1956. It houses less than a dozen computers and has several structural problems, including non-ADA compliance and cracking walls, Terry Jackson said.

In a perfect world, thecity says it would have a two-story library, construction on which would start in March 2009 and be completed by 2011. The project, in 2009 dollars, would cost anywhere between $34 million and $51 million, Terry Jackson said.

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