On Nov. 30, county librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd submitted a report to the Board of Supervisors warning that declining revenues could force cuts across the library system in order to avoid a deficit of as much as $22 million by 2020.
But branches in the foothills are not expected to face cuts because they benefit from a special tax assessment in place since 1997.
This year's special library tax for residents of unincorporated areas and 11 cities, including La Cañada Flintridge, is a flat $27.84 per land parcel. The La Crescenta branch also benefits from utility-tax funds, and in La Cañada, property-tax revenues are expected to remain strong despite nationwide declines in real-estate values.
"If you hear that the county libraries are falling apart, that's absolutely not true. We're taking a financial look 10 years down the road," Todd said. "We're primarily looking at some of the cities where there isn't a special tax, and property tax isn't high enough to support operations and we currently cover that [gap] with general-fund contributions."
While many of the 44 county branches — there are 85 in all — have actually increased hours of operation due to the extra revenue, the report predicts that those service enhancements may not be sustainable without a small increase to the parcel tax.
But Todd said more analysis is needed before the system would ask the Board of Supervisors for more money.
Now would be a bad time to ask for more money, said Tony Bell, a spokesman for L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.