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Let’s support our library – sustaining a significant public service

Our library programs provide so much to the community in addition to access to much-loved book collections: the library is a welcoming community center where people can meet socially to participate in (free) programs or simply wait out bad weather in comfortable arm chairs in front of the fire; it provides free digital services and tech help: free wifi hotspots and free streaming TV and digital subscriptions at a time subscriptions are rising. It has a new library of things where people can borrow rather than buy equipment for a community meeting or new hobby. It has popular preschool and after school programs for our children. 

The San Juan Island Library is a public library, funded through taxation. We take a lot of public services for granted. The Library Levy currently makes up only 2% of San Juan County property tax revenue  (see https://www.sanjuancountywa.gov/1359/2024-Levy-Highlights)The proposed Library Levy lift could add ~0.6% to property taxes in 2025 that would steadily decline over the next ten years as part of the regular cycle of levy lifts. For example, the last Library Levy lift in 2011 raised the Library property tax levy to 39¢ per $1000, but has declined to 26¢ per $1000 today. The decline is because year-on-year levy revenue is capped significantly below inflation.

The bump in revenue immediately after levy lift is no windfall – it is needed to sustain operations at inflation - the difference is banked to make up needed revenue at the end of the levy cycle. Our Library is fully dependent on the property tax levy. As with other public services, staff are not paid through fundraisers. Our generous community donates funds to enhance public programs, but basic staffing and operations are publicly funded. 

A library is not a luxury, it is the lifeblood of a community: more than ever in this digital age, it provides a gateway to knowledge and employment opportunities for all members of the community, not only those who can afford their own subscriptions and have know how to access digital opportunities. Vote Yes this summer to the Library Levy Lift! 

Vicky Hipkin