County takes steps toward library fees for builders

Access to technology at the San Benito County Free Library has increased with the donation of eight iPad 2s.

County supervisors took “baby steps” Tuesday toward establishing new library impact fees charged to developers of new homes.
Supervisors gave unanimous support for a recommendation from staff to bring back a nexus study and proposed fees to support facility funding for the existing San Benito County Free Library. Officials also indicated they were open to examine essentially doubling those fees in order to develop a new library down the road. On the current schedule, the board could adopt new library impact fees after a hearing March 22.
Under the “existing” structure of fees versus what was presented as a “system” structure—which would encompass a new building—the county would charge slightly more than $500 per single-family home and slightly less than that amount for multifamily units, explained county administration official Sara Fontanos.
Board members could prospectively establish a different set of fees once officials with the county and two local cities have a narrowed idea of plans for a future library center. Fontanos showed a “system standard” fee of slightly more than $1,000 per home to help build a 25,000 square foot library center.
“It’s a very broad project,” Fontanos said of plans for a new library, or Tel Center.
Impact fees are meant to offset specific costs brought on by consumer demand from new development, but must come with a nexus study to validate the need for such charges.
Before getting serious about a new library, though, officials like Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz said it’s important for the two cities to “play ball” as well.
“I think we’re now starting those baby steps that are eventually going to lead to big projects down the road,” De La Cruz said.
Getting library fees established was an important step for library supporters, too. Rebecca Salinas from the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We have waited forever for something like this,” Salinas said. “You all say you support our library. Now we have some teeth.”

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