This is the brainchild of Barry Barbe, owner of the El Gato Azul restaurant in downtown Prescott. Now that the Council is beginning budget considerations, Barbe wants to remind them that the library is important to the citizens of Prescott. So, each council member is receiving about 100 handwritten (for the most part) messages on postcards every week.
Noting that most council members only receive about 8-9000 votes, Barbe believes delivering 9000 postcards or more to the Council over the next few weeks represents a powerful voice in the community.
To put that into perspective, just how many votes did each of the current council members receive in their latest elections?
2015 Primary Election for Council (total ballots: 15,250):
Jim Lamerson: 8515
Billie Orr: 9523
Steve Sischka: 10,142
(These 3 candidates had no opposition.)
2015 Primary Election for Mayor (total votes cast:14,422):
Harry Oberg: 7267 (he defeated his opponent by less than 200 votes)
2013 Primary Election (total votes cast: 13,063)
Jean Wilcox: 7242 (won outright)
Steve Blair: 6804 (won outright)
2013 General Election Council Runoff Election (12,431 total votes cast):
Greg Lazzell: 6617 (defeated his opponent by less than 1100 votes)
Councilwoman Billie Orr is fascinated with the post cards she’s received, and feels sympathetic to the message the project represents. “It would be such a disappointment if the library didn’t remain free,” she said. Although she admitted that she hadn’t yet read all the postcards she’s received, she’s working through her stacks. But, she also acknowledged that the City of Prescott is facing serious financial issues with the $80+ million in unfunded liability from the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System obligations, and knows that priorities have to be set.
That’s why she, along with Councilman Steve Sischka and Councilwoman Jean Wilcox, all members of the Strategic Plan Committee, have invested many months in studying the issue to find solutions. The plan they came up with involves a 3/4 cent sales tax in the City of Prescott, which would automatically sunset after 10 years, or until the liability has been paid down to $1.5 million. The money generated by the sales tax would allow the City to pay down the liability to a manageable amount.
Barbe has made it his mission to learn as much as possible about the proposed sales tax. He agrees that the 3/4 cent tax is the best possible solution. But Barbe also believes that if one supports the library, they have to support the tax, because that’s the only way the City of Prescott will have the funds to maintain the library even at the current service levels.
"You can’t support the library and have it continue on its own without a revenue source," Barbe explained. "I don’t see this as a tax, I see this as investment in our future, and an investment in a town I’ve been in for 20 years, what I consider to be my home now.”
To read the postcards for yourself, go to the Library Postcard Project Facebook page.
Would you like to express your support for the library and perhaps get some questions answered about Prop 443? Barbe is holding a free library post card signing, along with a book exchange at El Gato Azul on Saturday, March 25, from 9-12. Coffee, juice and breakfast goodies will be available. There will also be opportunities to discuss Prop 443.