Library District seeks levy restoration for maintenance and operations

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Spokane County Library District is asking 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to keep library services at existing levels throughout Spokane County, increase digital materials, and replace outdated building heating and cooling systems.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 August 6 primary 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%) voter approval to pass.  

Property taxes are 93 percent of the Library District’s funding for operations. 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If approved, the Library District will repair or replace outdated HVAC systems, update safety and security in all facilities, as well as maintain core library services at current levels.

The 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% 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 themselves. 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.

The Library District serves all of Spokane County with the exceptions of the City of Spokane and the City of Liberty Lake. The levy is integral to maintain core library services at existing levels for 280,000 citizens.

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. 

Over 1.3 million visitors came to District libraries last year, checking out 2.5 million items. Over 84,000 people attended the more than 3,400 free events, which range in topics from financial literacy and educational offerings to story times and after-school programs.

The District has completed a facilities’ needs assessment and financial forecast for the immediate future. Based on this analysis, the District has determined it necessary to put a levy rate restoration proposition before the voters.

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