EL CERRITO -- The City Council passed a bare-bones $45.8 million 2013-14 budget Tuesday evening with minimal changes from a proposed budget it reviewed two weeks ago.

But the city staff did determine there is $25,000 in a fund controlled by City Manager Scott Hanin for a survey to determine what the community would like in a new library.

A so-called needs assessment would solicit input from residents about an optimal size and structure for a new facility while determining how to apply advances in library technology.

The assessment would have a life span of about three to four years, allowing time to find the money for construction, assistant City Manager Karen Pinkos told the council.

The city did a library needs assessment in 2006 that has been overtaken by developments in technology, she said.

The current library, at 6510 Stockton Ave., opened in 1948 and was renovated once in 1960. It has been identified as woefully inadequate by community groups, including Friends of the El Cerrito Library.

Councilman Mark Friedman urged Hanin to find the money for the needs assessment and to add more library hours during the budget review session at the June 4 council meeting.

Pinkos said the city was paying about $60,000 a year to increase library hours from 28 to 35 from 2003 through 2009.

In a reciprocal arrangement, the county agreed to pay for 35 hours of service and the city began paying for utilities, maintenance and other costs, which were previously covered by the county, she said.


Advertisement

"Now we're maintaining the entire building," Pinkos said. "We have to postpone funding (for more than 35 hours) at this time."

The 35 hours per week compares with 50 to 60 hours per week of service for eight other city-owned libraries in Contra Costa County, according to a Friends of the El Cerrito Library survey.

A few other identified needs also went unfunded in the final budget, including additional money to maintain city buildings, clubhouses and playfields and cost-of-living pay adjustments for management and other employees not represented by unions.