In discussions to transfer the Oro Valley Public Library from affiliate to branch status of Pima County, Town staff has promised a lot to concerned residents as they renegotiate the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).
With the current IGA between the Town and County expiring on June 30, staff has been exploring a solution that would allow them to remain fiscally responsible without surrendering the unique characteristics of Oro Valley’s much-beloved library.
Currently, Oro Valley pays $2.2 million in property taxes, and an additional $600,000 from the general fund in operating costs. If the new IGA goes into effect, Pima County would assume all operating costs without increasing the property tax.
In a Feb. 21 Town meeting, Oro Valley library manager Jane Peterson reassured residents the draft IGA addressed major concerns relating to programs and services, staffing, volunteer programs, Friends of Oro Valley funding, and more.
On Feb. 29, the Town backed up its promises when it released the draft IGA to the public.
“It has been met with a very positive response,” said Interim Town Manager Greg Caton.
According to the IGA, much about the library will remain the same upon a transfer.
Under the IGA, the library will continue to operate its unique programs to meet the needs and interests of the Oro Valley community, and volunteer programs will continue under the supervision of the district. The library’s name will also remain the same.
Friends-funded books under the Heritage Collection and the Local Author’s Collection have been determined as unique to the library, and will be marked as such. Currently, these books remain at the Oro Valley location. Under the new IGA, special-collection books may circulate to other district branches, but will be returned to the Oro Valley Library.
Books purchased by the Friends for the library’s general collection will be allowed to circulate other branches, but will also be returned.
The IGA would also allow for expanded library hours by remaining open on Sundays and four evenings per week.
If branch status occurs, employees of the library would be considered new employees of the County. Seniority within the County will be based on time spent at the Town library, and employees will receive salary or wages equivalent to their current earnings as of July 1. Transferring employees will be placed in a similar job classification, and accrued leave will be transferred up to and not beyond Pima County’s maximum amounts.
The IGA implements an atypical 50-year agreement between Oro Valley and the County.
“A switch of this nature is designed to be a long-term solution,” said Caton.
Each year, the agreement will be reviewed for any necessary changes.
Caton emphasized the importance of a clause in the IGA to allow either party to withdraw from the agreement if so decided.
“The good news is, if there is a concern, then we still have the six-month clause where we put them on notice and revert back,” he said.
According to Caton, if either party terminates the agreement, a reversion to affiliate status would occur, with Pima County once again paying 50 percent of the library’s operating cost.
Regardless of the library’s status, the Town will continue to own 50 percent of the building, and 100 percent of the land.
The tentative IGA is scheduled to go before Council on March 7. In a recent candidate forum, Council candidate Mike Zinkin said he thinks the IGA is on the right track, but feels the process should be slowed down.
“There’s no reason to make a final decision at the March 7 meeting,” he said. “I want the citizens to read the IGA. You read it, you figure it out, you tell the Council exactly what you want from your library.”
There have been no further developments in sending the issue to a citizen vote, as has been requested by some Oro Valley residents in past meetings.
The full IGA is available on www.orovalleyaz.gov/.