As timing would have it, there is even more good news for local bookworms. The Ocean Beach Branch Library will be the site of a celebratory reopening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, marking the end of an eight- to nine-week closure for repairs, according to George Murphy, outgoing president of the Friends of the Ocean Beach Library.
The branch, at 4801 Santa Monica Ave., was shuttered in January for re-roofing, some fresh coats of paint and recarpeting.
Saturday’s event will include an appearance by District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.
Supporters will have not only the reopening to celebrate, but also the positive big-picture news for library and rec center users.
“After years of cutbacks, we see the light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel,” Sanders said. “I’m pleased to report the city’s decades-long structural budget deficit is history.”
The projected surplus —$16.5 million over the approved fiscal year budget ending June 30 — is due, in part, to higher-than-anticipated sales and transient-occupancy tax revenues and savings from city reforms like managed competition, across-the-board cuts to employee compensation and department consolidation, Sanders said. Property-tax revenues are expected to be higher this year too — but the collections have not yet been factored into the reported projections, he said.
Five million dollars will be used to increase operating hours at all of the city’s 35 branch libraries by four hours per week, increase operating hours at all of the city’s 55 recreation centers by five hours per week, add 15 cadets to the upcoming police academy, and fund a new fire station alert system connecting the city’s 47 fire stations with the dispatch center to replace a 20-year-old system.
More than $8 million of the surplus will be saved and carried over into the next fiscal year beginning on July 1, “just in case we have holes open up in the 2012 budget,” said Sanders. Some of the surplus will also be set aside in a reserve for emergency infrastructure projects.
Faulconer, a longtime advocate for neighborhood services, helped rally support to skirt closure and severely reduced operating hours of the Ocean Beach Library and Cabrillo Recreation Center in the past, despite facing ever-deepening budget cuts.
“Mayor Sanders’ announcement is great news for our neighborhoods, libraries, recreation centers, police and fire departments,” said Faulconer.
“There is more to do to guard tax dollars and reform City Hall, but this positive budget news is a step in the right direction,” he said.