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Spokane County Library District Runs August Tax Ballot Measure

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The August primary election in Spokane County is focused mostly on local government elected officials. But there’s also a measure on the ballot important to the future of libraries in the county.

Most of the funding for the Spokane County Library District, which operates 11 branches, comes from local property taxes, says the district’s executive director, Patrick Roewe.

“Right now, our property tax rate is at 43 cents per one thousand dollars of assessed valuation. And we’re asking the voters to restore it to 50 cents per thousand dollars, about a seven cent increase," Roewe said.

He says the 50-cent levy rate is what the district has long been authorized to collect. But he says several factors have conspired to chip away at its revenue levels. The district is prohibited by law from increasing its property tax levy by more than one percent a year without a public vote and inflation has outpaced that.

Now, Roewe says, it’s time to go back to voters again. He says the last time it asked voters for a readjustment in its levy rate was about 10 years ago.

“We’re not at a fiscal crisis or anything like that at the moment, but in terms of our financial planning in the future, we’ve done a financial forecast and kind of evaluated where we’re headed and we’re at the point where we want to restore that rate up to its maximum to avoid any decline in services or reductions,” he said.

Roewe says, if the levy rate is approved, the district would continue services and current hours at its 11 branches, continue its outreach efforts and even be able to make improvements to the infrastructure at some of its buildings.

The district has been holding levy open houses to answer questions, including one until 6 pm tonight [Monday]. The next will be Thursday from 4-to-6 pm at the district’s Bookend branch in the Spokane Valley Mall.

The measure needs a simple majority to be approved.