Thursday, November 12, 2009

City Council Debates a Hold on Library Funding Bill

Pittsburgh City Council brought a bill to the floor Thursday that would have sent $600,000 dollars to the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh but there was very little debate on the provisions of the bill. As soon as it was introduced, Council President, and bill sponsor, Doug Shields asked for a one week delay. That set off an hour-long debate on how long the bill should be left on the table. The measure would use money left over in the city’s 2009 fuel budget to shore up the libraries’ flagging 2010 budget. Shields asked that the bill be held for a week but other members called for a four-week hold. Shields says if the bill is put on a four-week hold members will ignore it until December and that is not acceptable. He says he will be more than happy to put another one-week hold on the bill if more time is needed but the issue needs to come before the council every week to make sure council holds the collective feet of all the parties involved to the metaphorical fire. Those feet belong to the State, the Mayor’s Office and the Library Board. Shields was among a group of lawmakers calling on the library board to publish more details of its proposed budget. Councilman Patrick Dowd says the council clearly does not have all of the numbers it needs to debate the bill and the state needs time to take action. He is calling for the longer delay. He says he would also like to see the measure taken up after a city budget is finalized. That budget may include a provision to fill the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh funding gap. He says it is in the council’s best interest to not have the bill at the table every week where it can be passed prematurely. The measure was ultimately put on the table for one week and will be called again Wednesday.

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