Officials from the City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles Public Library met Thursday at the Hall of Administration in Los Angeles to begin looking for ways to complete the expansion of the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library.
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The project is approximately 80 percent complete, according to City staff.
The building, which is owned by the City, now houses a tiny staff, which services patrons through a book mobile.
In 2001, the City agreed to a lease agreement with the County, with one condition being that the County eventually complete a 4,500-square foot expansion project.
Now, with the City and County in the process of separating, there is a disagreement as to how the expansion should be funded.
Word of Thursday’s meeting first surfaced through a letter from County Librarian Margaret Donnelan Todd to City Manager Ken Pulskamp.
In the letter, Todd says that the project’s stoppage might never have happened if the City and County had engaged in discussions prior to the City’s withdrawal from the Country Library system.
The letter reads, “Since the project is funded with fees paid by developers of residential housing in the unincorporated portion of the Canyon Country library service area, the County has a fiduciary responsibility to the unincorporated area residents to ensure the funds are allocated according to state law.”
In his response, sent before Thursday’s meeting, Pulskamp writes, “As you are aware, the County adopted a development impact mitigation fee in 1999. That fee anticipated certain facilities and improvements in Canyon Country. As you will recall, the City of Santa Clarita fully funded the development and construction costs of the new and improved library in Canyon Country.
He continues, “The County declined to participate in the original funding of that library and has since utilized the building under a $1 per year lease agreement. Therefore, while the County has been collecting development fees for over 10 years they have not, until this current project, spent them in Canyon Country.”
According to Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin, one of the funding options discussed is the use of developer fees for property that has been annexed into the City in recent years – property that was part of the County at the time the expansion began.
Striplin said City officials met with three County Library representatives on Thursday, including Chief Deputy Fred Hungerford.
“We’re looking to getting (the library) open as quickly as possible,” said Striplin.
He added that there are plans for a future meeting, though no date was set.
Hungerford was unavailable for comment.