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Library Levy Proposition 2019

About the Levy Proposition  |  Why now?  |  FAQs

About the Levy Proposition

Spokane County Library District (Library) is asking voters to consider a measure on the August 6, 2019, primary ballot to restore the property tax levy that funds operations of its 11 community libraries.

This measure would restore the property tax levy that funds daily operations and maintenance of its libraries to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value. Currently the levy rate is at approximately 43 cents per $1,000 assessed value. For the owner of a home with a $235,000 home value, the cost would increase $16.45 per year. Passage of the levy is necessary because the current level of funding is not enough to support the present level of services and available materials provided by the Library and meet the demand for services and materials in the future.

Election date

August 6, 2019
(Ballots will be mailed on July 18.)

Voter registration & information

To register to vote, visit the Spokane County Voter Registration web page.

For more information about elections, visit the Spokane County Elections web page.

Public Information Open Houses

Get the facts about the Library’s plans for levy funds.

MORAN PRAIRIE LIBRARY
6004 S. Regal, Spokane
Tuesday, June 11, 4–6pm

FAIRFIELD LIBRARY
305 E Main St, Fairfield
Thursday, June 13, 4–6pm

OTIS ORCHARDS LIBRARY
22324 E Wellesley Ave, Otis Orchards
Tuesday, June 18, 4–6pm

SPOKANE VALLEY LIBRARY
12004 E Main Ave, Spokane Valley
Thursday, June 20, 4–6pm

ARGONNE LIBRARY
4322 N Argonne Rd, Spokane
Monday, June 24, 4–6pm

THE BOOKEND
At Spokane Valley Mall
14700 E Indiana Ave, Spokane Valley
Thursday, June 27, 4–6pm

DEER PARK LIBRARY
208 S Forest Ave, Deer Park
Monday, July 8, 4–6pm

NORTH SPOKANE LIBRARY
44 E Hawthorne Rd, Spokane
Thursday, July 11, 4–6pm

CHENEY LIBRARY
610 First St, Cheney
Tuesday, July 16, 4–6pm

MEDICAL LAKE LIBRARY
321 E Herb St, Medical Lake
Tuesday, July 23, 4–6pm

AIRWAY HEIGHTS LIBRARY
1213 S Lundstrom St, Airway Heights
Thursday, July 25, 4–6pm

For more information, please contact the Library’s administrative offices at 509.893.8200


Why is the Library asking for funding now?

The Board of Trustees has determined the current level of funding is not enough to support the present level of services and available materials provided by the Library and meet the demand for services and materials in the future. Voters will be asked to consider a measure on the August 2019 ballot to restore the regular property tax levy rate that funds daily operations and maintenance. Passage of this levy is necessary for long-term sustainable funding of the Airway Heights, Argonne, Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Medical Lake, Moran Prairie, North Spokane, Otis Orchards, Spokane Valley, and The BookEnd libraries.

If voters say yes, the Library will:
  • Maintain core library services at existing levels throughout Spokane County
  • Expand mobile services with additional vehicles and emerging technologies to increase learning opportunities for child care and adult care facilities, and to those in the more rural communities throughout Spokane County
  • Increase the digital collection of eBooks, audiobook downloads, and streaming offerings
  • Repair or replace outdated HVAC systems, which will increase energy efficiency that will reduce long-term utility costs
  • Update safety and security in facilities, including installing security cameras in parking lots and at entrances
If voters say no, the Library will:
  • Close one or more libraries
  • Shift available funds to facility repairs and maintenance, which will reduce story times and other programs
  • Acquire fewer new digital resources, which will increase wait times
  • Reduce library hours, materials, and staff
  • Reduce mobile services to childcare and adult care facilities

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About the ballot

The proposition that will be presented to voters on the August 6, 2019, primary election ballot will be as follows:

Proposition No. 1

Regular Library Operations and Maintenance Levy

The Spokane County Library District Board of Trustees adopted Resolution No. 19-04 concerning a proposition to increase its regular property tax levy to provide continued funding for normal operation and maintenance of 11 community libraries and library services. This proposition would authorize the Library to restore its regular property tax levy rate to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019 for collection in 2020, as authorized by chapter 84.55 RCW. Thereafter, such levy amount would be used to compute limitations for subsequent years’ levies as authorized by chapter 84.55 RCW. Should this proposition be approved?

Yes
No

Why is the Library asking for funding now?

The current level of funding is not enough to support the present level of services and available materials provided by the Library and meet the demand for services and materials in the future. Voters will be asked to consider a measure on the August 2019 ballot to restore the regular property tax levy rate that funds daily operations and maintenance. Passage of this levy is necessary for long-term sustainable funding of the Airway Heights, Argonne, Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Medical Lake, Moran Prairie, North Spokane, Otis Orchards, Spokane Valley, and The BookEnd libraries. The Library fiscally plans ahead in order to keep up with and plan for services based on customer needs and population growth, and the current level of funding is not enough to support the present level of services and collections beyond 2020.   

What is the Library’s current levy rate?

The Library’s current levy rate is approximately 43 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.   

What if the proposition passes?

If voters say yes, the Library will:

  • Maintain core library services at existing levels throughout Spokane County
  • Expand mobile services with additional vehicles and emerging technologies to increase learning opportunities for childcare and adult facilities and for those in the more rural communities throughout Spokane County
  • Increase the digital collection of eBooks, audiobook downloads, and streaming offerings
  • Repair or replace outdated HVAC systems, which will increase energy efficiency that will reduce long-term utility costs
  • Update safety and security in facilities, including installing security cameras in parking lots and at entrances
What if the proposition fails?

If voters say no, the Library will:

  • Close one or more libraries
  • Shift available funds to facility repairs and maintenance, which will reduce storytimes and other programs
  • Acquire fewer new digital resources, which will increase wait times
  • Reduce library hours, materials, and staff
  • Reduce mobile services to childcare and adult care facilities
Who can vote on this levy issue?

Voters in Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake, Millwood, Rockford, Spangle, Spokane Valley, Waverly, and unincorporated Spokane County

Property values have risen over the last few years. Why doesn’t this address the Library’s need for funding?

The Library’s property tax levy rate is limited to a maximum 1% increase each year. As inflation grows more than the allowed annual tax increase, the library’s revenues are not able to cover expenses. The levy restoration is asking for the Library’s funding to return to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.

How does the Library use the property taxes that it receives now?

In 2018 Library expenses were as follows:

Department Amount Percent of budget
Service, Education, Programs 6,169,513 51%
Collections 2,695,166 22%
Spaces 766,331 6%
Technology 1,173,875 10%
Library Support 1,268,671 11%
TOTAL 12,073,557 100%
How does the Library intend to use the additional funds?

If voters restore the levy rate, the Library will continue to provide access to information and learning and educational opportunities for all ages, as well as improve and preserve library facilities by doing the following:

Preparing our community for long-term success by:

  • Increasing learning opportunities that focus on personal finance, workforce development, and small business support
  • Further investing in education programs for young children that prepare them to start kindergarten ready to learn. 
  • Emphasizing career connected learning opportunities that provide teens and adults with work-ready skill sets

Developing more opportunities to meet and learn together by:

  • Emphasizing educational and entertainment programs that encourage families and communities to learn and enjoy together
  • Connecting people to services and resources that help our residents make informed choices
  • Bringing digital hands-on learning opportunities for all ages to all of Spokane County

Improve and preserve all library facilities and services by:

  • Replacing outdated HVAC systems, outdated building access controls, and outdated technology in our facilities
  • Addressing routine needs of aging buildings
  • Increasing the digital collection to bring more eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, streaming movies and music, and online learning resources to customers’ devices

Costs to implement these plans is $2,792,000.

How much will the levy cost?

Voters will be asked to restore the property tax levy rate that funds daily operations and maintenance of its libraries to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed valuations (AV). Currently the levy rate is at approximately 43 cents per $1,000 AV.

This levy restoration raises that rate 7 cents per $1,000 AV. The estimated increase property tax on a home:

Home value Annual increase Added monthly cost
$235,000 $16.45 $1.37
$260,000 $18.20 $1.52

Tax Exemptions: Senior citizens and people with disabilities who meet certain income requirements may be exempt from part or all of these local taxes. To learn more, contact the Spokane County Assessor’s Office at 509.477.5754 or visit www.spokanecounty.org/839/Tax-Relief-Exemptions.  

Why can’t the Library raise funds via sales tax or other tax?

The Library does not have taxing authority to impose a sales or any other tax.

Are there additional sources for funding at the Library?

Library staff write and compete for grants to supplement programs and initiatives. The Library also receives donations from Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization that exists to help support certain activities at the Library. The Library also receives donations from various groups, organizations, and individuals.

How much of my property tax bill currently goes to the Library?

Currently, 2% of property taxes distributed in Spokane County supports operations and maintenance of the Spokane County Library District’s 11 libraries.

What about new libraries or expansion of current facilities?

Without the approval of this restoration levy, the Library will not pursue plans for new libraries or expansion of any of the current facilities. If the levy rate is not restored, the cost of operating existing facilities and necessary maintenance will not allow the Library to consider new libraries or expansion of current facilities.