The Ocean Shores Library Board has settled on an Aug. 5 date to ask the public to approve a levy lift that would raise the property tax levy for the library 3 cents to a total of 27.7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
Board President Bob Peterson presented a request for the levy amount and date to the City Council March 10. The date is at the time of the primary election.
The council will have to approve sending the request to voters. It would be for three years starting Jan. 1, 2015 and ending Dec. 31, 2017 if passed by city voters.
Peterson said one of the reasons for the levy increase was to pay for the new cost allocation of about $15,000 from library resources to the city, and for “anticipated labor and inflationary increases over the next three years.”
“Passage of this levy will ensure the library remains open with current staffing for five days a week, for 35 hours,” Peterson said, reading a prepared “Library Levy Facts” that were handed out to the council members. “The library will provide the same services and programs for people of all ages. The library meeting room will remain open for the hundreds of groups and thousands of people who use it each year.
“Library patrons will continue to enjoy an updated and less expensive data base that is more user-friendly and relevant to their needs.”
Councilman John Schroeder wanted to know what hours the library started operations, and questioned if it could be open earlier in the mornings.
“At one time, the library did operate with more hours,” he noted.
The filing date for the election is May 9, so the city must act by that time to get it onto the ballot.
Councilwoman Jackie Fara questioned if the board had explored the option of partnering with the Timberland Library system, which operates the libraries in Hoquiam, Aberdeen, among other cities in the region.
But Peterson said that would require a separate vote and would cost more than 40 cents per $1,000 of property valuation. The city still would have to agree to take care of the existing facility.
“There are a lot of negatives there from my standpoint,” Peterson said. “We do have a good library. We have upgraded it over the last year. We have made some real strides I think. I’m trying to be objective.”
Resident Carol Ensley commented: “If we went with Timberland, we — Ocean Shores — still have to pay all the overhead for the library building. They are not going to do that. We have to do that because it is our building. So that would put an extra cost on as well as having to pay more to belong to it. So, I think we have a good deal going here.”
Councilman Gordon Broadbent made a point to declare that “I support the Ocean Shores independent library” and that he also supported the levy plan.
“I remember the last time we had the same issue come up (2010), and we had to go to the ballot and we had to go to a vote,” he said. “I remember the arguments for and against, and they are the same ones. It costs more to go to Timberland.”
A resolution now will come before the council for action at an upcoming regular meeting.
Concerning the cost allocation issue, where the city charges the library for certain purposes, Finance Director Steve Ensley said the figures represents the amount of overhead, time and expense that “is reasonably allocated to the library.”
For example, he noted the city has to pay legal fees to draft the resolution for the levy request. “We pay the payrolls, we pay the bills, we handle their money, we file their tax returns, we do all of those things,” Ensley said. “… The board was asked to include this in their planning for the levy that they want to raise for the next three years,.”
Councilman Schroeder thanked Ensley for explaining that issue, and drew applause when he said he “even checked out a book last year. And I don’t read, but I’m working on it.”