Printable Q&A sheet
LIBRARY LEVY ELECTION RESULTS
Total final, county-certified election returns as of 9/1:
50.28% YES votes
Clark County - 49.30% YES votes
(50.00% + 1 vote needed to pass -- final 495-vote difference)
Klickitat County - 63.71% YES votes
Skamania County - 52.82% YES votes
Cowlitz County (City of Woodland) - 47.50% YES votes
Information about the
Library Levy Measure
August 17, 2010 Primary Election
The library's board of trustees placed a district-wide "levy lid lift" proposal on the August 17, 2010 primary-election ballot. If approved by 50 percent + 1 of voters, the increased levy rate would provide the additional operating revenue required to restore library hours lost in 2009 and purchase books and other items for the district collection. Feb. 11, 2010 news release
Cost of the library levy increase for property owners
If the library levy measure is approved, the approximate additional annual amounts property owners will pay in 2011 will be as follows, based on an anticipated 8-cent increase to raise the levy rate to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation:
Formula: $0.08 x (assessed valuation divided by 1,000) = library tax increase
- On a $150,000 property - $12
- On a $175,000 property - $14
- On a $200,000 property - $16
- On a $225,000 property - $18
- On a $250,000 property - $20
- On a $275,000 property - $22
- On a $300,000 property - $24
Click for more information on CALCULATING THE LEVY INCREASE
- Q. Why are you asking property owners for more money?
- A. FVRL, along with most other public agencies, is facing declining revenues and increasing costs for maintenance and operations. The decline is in part due to a severe reduction in construction, which in the past provided the district a cushion against tax limitation measures through taxes collected from timber sales and new construction.
- Declining revenues are especially concerning for libraries. In hard times more people turn to public libraries to cut household costs such as book purchases, magazine subscriptions and Internet access. They also need libraries more than ever to sharpen marketable skills and search for employment. More people are using FVRL libraries: circulation increased 8 percent in 2009 and continues to rise.
- We implemented severe spending reductions in 2009, but we also need to address long-term funding. The only operational funding tool available to libraries is the levy lid lift.
- The library board voted in late 2009 to accept a decrease in base property tax funding for 2010 rather than invoking a clause in the state's tax limitation laws that would have allowed us to raise property taxes a small amount without voter approval. Putting a levy lid lift measure on the ballot lets voters have a say in whether the library will make further cuts to services, hours and book purchases.
WA Department of Revenue information on 1-percent tax limitation impacts and levy lid lifts
- Q. What would the tax increase pay for, and how much will you collect?
- A. Raising the levy rate to the allowable $0.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation would provide approximately $3 million in 2011 to fund:
- District-wide restoration of library hours that were lost in 2009
- The purchase of additional books and other materials to keep the library's collection up-to-date and sufficient to meet growing demand. The district's book-purchasing power has been stagnant for about 10 years.
- All FVRL libraries would benefit from the increased revenue, with restored hours and/or more books.
- We expect that a levy increase at this level will cost the owner of a $250,000 house approximately $20 more per year.
- Q. Will you be adding movie DVDs, music CDs and downloadable e-books?
- A. Our focus for building up the collection will be on existing types of materials. We haven't added entertainment DVDs and music CDs in the past due to the high initial cost of acquiring a reasonable selection. A successful levy will allow us to consider new formats and types of materials, as well as fulfill unmet needs for current types of materials.
- Q. What will happen if the measure fails?
- A. Without additional maintenance and operations funding, we won't be able to restore library hours
cut in 2009 or increase the book budget. We also won't be able to hire the staff required to open the larger new main library with the current six‐days‐a‐week schedule. The new building will be open only five days a week. Additional cuts in the future to hours and services across the district are very likely.
- Q: Why has the library district picked this time to announce a new tax measure?
- A. Library funding constraints are a long-term problem that reached a critical point in 2009. Over the past year, the library district has had to reduce its operational expenses to a level that impacts basic library access (hours) and services. The situation is not anticipated to improve in the foreseeable future. The district is now giving voters a chance to decide whether to restore library funding to a higher level.
- Q. When did FVRL last go to the voters to ask for an operating tax increase?
- A. 1993 - 17 years ago.
- Q. What other solutions have you implemented to address reduced revenues?
- A. FVRL substantially reduced its operating budget in 2009 -- including cutting 10 percent of staff positions and reducing hours at seven libraries -- in response to severe revenue declines.
- The district's ability to purchase books and other items has diminished over the years due to rising costs that have exceeded revenue growth. For example: the number of items purchased for the collection in 2008 was less than the number purchased in almost any year in the past decade. This situation has made it difficult to keep pace with a growing population's increasing demand for library books.
- The district has made more than a dozen other cuts or service reductions in the past few years in its efforts to work within available revenue.
- Q. What makes you think you can win with a tax measure, given the bad state of the economy?
- A. In a district-wide poll recently conducted by the political action committee Citizens for Better Libraries, 62 percent of voters indicated that they would vote 'yes' for a library levy lid lift, which requires 50 percent + 1 to pass. The survey results were made available to the library board of trustees as they considered whether to proceed with a funding measure. The success of the February 2010 school levies also provided a timely indicator that voters might be willing to invest in the future by supporting a library measure.
- Q. Who gets to vote on the library measure?
- A. All registered voters who live within Fort Vancouver Regional Library District can vote on the August 17 library measure. The district encompasses all of Skamania and Klickitat counties, all of Clark county except the city of Camas, and the city of Woodland in Cowlitz County.
- Q. I live in Vancouver. Didn't we just vote to give you more money for libraries?
- A. Construction of the two new Vancouver facilities, Cascade Park Community Library and Vancouver Community Library, was funded by a separate bond measure Vancouver voters passed in 2006. Those capital funds cannot be used for library district operations. Planning and commitments to build these two larger libraries were made prior to the economic downturn.
Have questions not answered here?
Please call the library district business office at 360-695-1561 or 1-877-546-2707 from area code 509. Business hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. You also can send an email to email@example.com.
Citizens for Better Libraries
The political action committee conducting a campaign for the library levy is Citizens for Better Libraries
About the District
Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, headquartered in Vancouver in Southwest Washington state, was established in 1950 as the first inter-county rural library district in the state. The district has grown since 1950 to serve all of Clark, Skamania and Klickitat Counties, and the city of Woodland in Cowlitz County.
With thirteen libraries, three bookmobiles, a Vancouver operations center, and Internet access to electronic services, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District provides information resources and services, and community and cultural events for a population of more than 468,000 residents. The service area is more than 4,200 square miles and includes farm, open range and national forest lands, communities along the Columbia River, small towns and expanding urban and industrial areas.
Libraries are located in Battle Ground, Cascade Park, Goldendale, La Center, North Bonneville, Ridgefield, Stevenson, Three Creeks, Vancouver (main library), Vancouver Mall, Washougal, White Salmon Valley, and Woodland.
By virtue of being part of a major regional library district, citizens in even the smallest communities have access to professional information services staff, Internet access, world-class research databases, and a library collection that includes more than 700,000 books, magazines, videotapes, DVDs, audio book CDs, tapes and PlayAways®.
More information on the benefits of library districts (.pdf file)