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Beach Library budgets need another look

October 24, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

This will be hard for some to believe but I am going to try to make a dispassionate comment on the library.

The folks there had a dream to double its size with a first-class extension. Congratulations are due for the impressive result that is paid for.

One could quibble if its appropriate for a public building to have a book store, cafe and meeting room that compete with existing Beach businesses. However, Beach Library officials have made several public relation mistakes in the methods used to achieve and finance the expansion.

If it had held a referendum that was positive, it would not now face any criticism. If negative, it would have known that the owners, the taxpayers, were not yet ready. It alienated itself to many by stating that it did not have to hold a referendum.

We are told to be proud of what has been done. Why then was it necessary to obfuscate budgets so that large surpluses were generated for construction other than to disguise the scope and cost. Look at the Beach Library website. If you are unfamiliar with accounting terms get someone to explain how this was done.

Critics have repeatedly been labeled a small group. Six hundred of them signed a petition in protest. The Friends of the Beach Library number 120. The election will decide size.

Candidates tell us that they were appointed by the Governor of Florida and then elected. This is absolutely true, as is the statement that they were carefully selected at the library, rubber stamped by the State, and then ran unopposed, as there has never been a competitive election.

The library has become a sacred cow. To ask questions, one is called angry, harping, whining, ranting and irreverent by hurling false accusations and using distorted facts. No examples of these distorted facts have materialized, maybe because I have used the library's financial data exclusively.

Library people tell us, "we have done good here." This is true, but unfortunately the good was done using other people's money with little reference to those people. So the end result justifies the means.

Finally I found it surprising that at the last meeting a board member asked why were we picking on the library, why not go after the county? The library taxes are chump change in comparison. It's our chump change and it should have been respected.

Peter Reid

Candidate Seat 5 Library Board

Fort Myers Baech



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