Library district plans levy election

Staff Writer

The Spokane County Library District 11 ask voters to consider a measure to restore the property tax levy rate that funds daily operations and maintenance of its 11 libraries to keep library services at existing levels throughout Spokane County, increase digital materials, and replace outdated building heating and cooling systems.
The restoration levy will be on the Aug. 6 primary election ballot. This measure would restore the property tax levy rate that funds daily operations and maintenance of its libraries to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. Currently, the levy rate is at 43 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.
The levy tax rate proposed is a 7-cent per $1,000 of assessed property value increase. For the owner of a home with a $235,000 assessment, the annual cost would increase $16.45.
The levy needs a simple majority (over 50 percent) voter approval to pass.
Property taxes are 93 percent of the library district’s funding for operations.
Library district officials said passage of the levy is necessary for long-term sustainable funding of its 12 libraries including the Deer Park branch.
If approved, the library district will repair or replace outdated HVAC systems, update safety and security in all facilities, as well as maintain library services at current levels.
Funds would also pay for an increase in the digital collection of eBooks, audiobook downloads, and streaming offerings. Demand for digital materials at the library district has increased 2,700 percent in the past 10 years.
The library district has identified an operational need to bring services to those who are not able to visit the library. To address this need, the district is also planning to add another vehicle to expand mobile services with emerging technologies to extend services to rural communities within the library district’s service area.
If the measure fails, the Library District will shift available funds to facility repairs and maintenance, reduce story times and other programs, acquire fewer new digital resources, and begin determining where and when community libraries will be closed.