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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

Topic: libraries

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July 26, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Candidates, mayor differ on library funding

Mayoral Candidate Peter Steinbrueck has called out Mayor Mike McGinn for recommending a $1 million reduction to the 2013 library budget in the executive’s supplemental budget.

The mayor’s office was quick to respond that it is not cutting any programs, services, hours or collections. Rather, said spokesman Robert Cruickshank, it’s redirecting some savings the city found after discovering that it had budgeted twice to end the one-week August furlough throughout the library system. And health care costs for the libraries are about $500,000 less than anticipated.

Cruickshank called the reallocation of library funding “a technical change that reflects overbudgeting.” And he added that the library “is on board” with both adjustments.

But Steinbrueck, along with Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Jean Godden, say savings found in the library budget should stay with the library and not be redirected to other general fund programs. They note that 13 branches are still closed on Fridays and the library is still trying to rebuild collections and catch up on building maintenance deferred during four years of budget cuts.

Steinbrueck notes that the recommended reduction comes in the same week McGinn sent out a campaign flyer asking “What if Seattle had a mayor who made sure our libraries stayed open?” The answer on the reverse side picks up a theme from the mayor’s reelection campaign ads and mailers: “We do and his name is Mike McGinn.”

Steinbrueck, who served two terms on the Library Foundation Board, said, “I’d like to see these funds stay with the libraries. I’m certain they could find a good use for them.”

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