County library director finalists to be announced

Finalists for the job of running Sonoma County's sprawling library system will be introduced to the public Thursday at a forum likely to touch upon the myriad challenges facing the organization.

Three men and one woman will vie for the library director's job, which pays an annual salary of $128,000 to $153,000. One finalist, Brett Lear, is director of the Martin County library system in Florida. The others are employed at libraries in California.

The public forum is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library on E Street in downtown Santa Rosa.

The challenges facing the next director include a budget deficit and what is expected to be the implementation of a revision of the system's joint-powers agreement.

One of the questions library commissioners posed to applicants was why they wanted the job, said Tim May, the group's chairman.

"Essentially, the sense I got was that there were some people who like to remodel houses," he said. "They know there are good rooms there, but they want to help bring it back and restore it."

The library's budget of nearly $15 million for this fiscal year includes a deficit of about $610,000. Library commissioners authorized a one-time transfer of money from a special fund to help cover that amount and are exploring whether to seek a sales-tax measure on the November ballot.

The library system receives most of its funding through a share of property taxes that are deposited into a fund specific to the library's needs. The formula was set in 1978 with the implementation of Proposition 13.

Library commissioners will discuss at their monthly meeting Monday night results of a poll they commissioned to gauge public support for a sales-tax measure. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Santa Rosa City Council Chambers.

Also Monday, members of a committee exploring changes to the joint-powers agreement that governs library operations are scheduled to meet to discuss what may be their final recommendations for revising the document.

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