Sno-Isle Libraries decided it will ask voters to maintain current funding levels by placing a ballot measure in April 2018.
The Board of Trustees met this past week to determine whether or not to push forward an operating levy or cut back library services, facing a $2 million shortfall in 2019. The board voted unanimously in favor of the levy, which will ask voters to consider restoring 9 cents to the library district’s regular operating levy for a total rate of 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The ballot, set to go to voters on April 24, 2018, would take effect in 2019.
“Going to the voters is not a decision we take lightly,” Board of Trustees President Marti Anamosa said in a press release. “Libraries are vital to our communities. Addressing the levy rate now enables the library to continue providing the resources that are so important to our communities and customers.”
Ninety-eight percent of the library district’s funding comes from property-tax levies across most of Snohomish County and all of Island County.
Had the board voted against the levy, it would have reduced open library hours by four hours weekly, closed on Sundays, cut employees, purchased fewer library materials such as music and movies and increased customers’ waiting times for print and digital books.
There are 22 community libraries in Island and Snohomish counties. There are five on Whidbey Island in Clinton, Langley, Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor. The libraries serve more than 740,000 people in the region.
The board partly based its decision on results from online surveys, open-house events and people contacting Sno-Isle Libraries via telephone and email.
The last time the library district asked for a levy increase was back in 2009. If voters do not approve the ballot measure in April, the next step would be budget cuts for 2019 and service reductions, according to a press release.