The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a contract with the city of Stockton for library services to all library branches outside the seven cities in the county.
The new contract, pending approval Tuesday night by the Stockton City Council, will require the city of Stockton to maintain separate budgets for the Stockton branches and for the branches in rural areas. The county allocated $5 million in property tax revenue for the current fiscal year when the Board of Supervisors adopted the county budget last June.
County officials had considered dropping Stockton and having a private Maryland firm operating libraries in unincorporated areas, including the Thornton branch and the weekly Bookmobile that serves Lockeford and Clements.
Tracy Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the county's negotiations with the private firm prompted Stockton to be more forthcoming with the county. Nevertheless, Ornellas said the contract is "flawed."
"If the city of Stockton was a private company, we wouldn't be signing this contract," Ornellas said.
Ornellas said he is concerned about Stockton's finances with no guarantees that the city wouldn't someday reduce services to rural communities, an accounting on county property tax dollars spent on rural libraries won't be available until November and that the county has no say on who the library director is and how much that person is paid.
The other four county supervisors supported the contract with Stockton because of community wanted operational control to remain in San Joaquin County.
The only north county library services affected are in Thornton, which has a branch, and weekly Bookmobile service in Lockeford and Clements. The Lodi Public Library is not part of the Stockton-county system.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.