Measure F, which would have introduced a one-eighth sales tax to boost library budgets, was shot down sharply last night by Kern County voters. It fell more than 15 percent shy of the votes needed to pass.
Now, the Kern County library system is trying to figure out how to survive on the budget it has. While most California libraries receive funding from property or state tax, Kern libraries don’t.
In fact, they get less than a fifth of the funding that the average library receives in California, and the threat of future budget cuts are imminent.
"We’re looking at a pretty grim budget," said Nancy Kerr, director of Kern Libraries.
"We’re looking at cuts this year of 5% and potential cuts over the next several years, so we’re at the bare-bones bottom of what we can do with the budget that we have."
Kerr says that branches and staff should be safe if the budget stays where it is; however, she also conceded that branch closures and layoffs could be coming if the budget is cut further.
County budget hearings will be getting underway this month and will wrap up in August—we’ll know more about the library's budget situation once those hearings are held.