Submitted by Pierce County Library System.
TACOMA – The Pierce County Library System is hosting Coffee with Your Librarian to talk about funding to serve growing and changing communities. At the open houses, library leaders will be available to discuss the Nov. 6 general election ballot measure, to restore the Library System’s regular property tax levy rate.
“At the drop-in coffee events we will talk with people about services the Library System would maintain with the restored levy as well as services we would reduce or eliminate without additional funding,” said the Library’s Executive Director Georgia Lomax. “A Community Advisory Committee, made up of community leaders, analyzed the Library’s funding and input from thousands of residents, and the committee recommended placing a measure on the ballot to ask voters to restore funding.”
A restored levy would maintain library services and return the Library’s levy rate to its full legal amount of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. This would be an increase of approximately 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property. To the owner of an average home assessed at $320,000 this would be approximately a $32 increase in 2019.
The restored levy or levy lid lift is on the November ballot because costs to operate and maintain library services and libraries are increasing at a faster and higher rate than revenues. In recent years, costs have increased by an average rate of 4-7 percent a year, while property tax revenues have increased at an average rate of 1-3 percent. Property taxes make up approximately 94 percent of Pierce County Library’s revenue. State law limits local governments, including Pierce County Library, to an increase in property taxes of no more than 1 percent plus property taxes from new construction each year.
In 2006 voters passed the only re-authorized levy in the 72-year history of the Library System. The Library System has met or surpassed all levy promises with funding from the 2006 levy that was projected to maintain services for up to six years. The Library has stretched that funding for 12 years.
Since 2006 the Library’s service area population has grown by 16 percent to 602,000 people and the number of people with library cards has grown by 63 percent to 323,000 people. During this time the demand for library services have increased, too.
Since 2009 to manage its budget, the Library System has eliminated, reduced, streamlined or not offered services and deferred maintenance totaling $20 million.
The restored levy would maintain services including open hours at 20 locations and online library resources; 1.5 million books, e-books, movies and other materials; staff to support learning with thousands of classes and events; computers, Wi-Fi and technology; and community spaces.
Without the restored levy, the Library System would further eliminate and reduce services including a 10 percent reduction in the hours libraries are open; a 14-21 percent decrease in the number of books, movies and other materials; and a 40 percent reduction in classes and events; as well as close two to three libraries.
Learn more about funding library services for growing and changing communities at Coffee with Your Librarian.
- Anderson Island Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 1-2:30 p.m.
- Bonney Lake Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 5:30-7 p.m.
- Buckley Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 10, 2:30-4 p.m.
- DuPont Pierce County Library, Thursday, Oct. 11, 4-5:30 p.m.
- Eatonville Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Fife Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Gig Harbor Pierce County Library, Thursday, Sept. 20, 12:30-2 p.m.
- Graham Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 24, 5-6:30 p.m.
- Key Center Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 6-7:30 p.m.
- Lakewood Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 3:30-5 p.m.
- Milton/Edgewood Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Orting Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Parkland/Spanaway Pierce County Library, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2:30-4 p.m.
- South Hill Pierce County Library, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 1:30-3 p.m.
- Steilacoom Pierce County Library, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2:30-4 p.m.
- Summit Pierce County Library, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 3:30-5 p.m.
- Sumner Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Tillicum Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 10, 1-2:30 p.m.
- University Place Pierce County Library, Monday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Friends of the Libraries are providing refreshments at the events.