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Pros, cons sought for library proposal

Does Oak Harbor need a new library? Is $68 a year too much to pay for a library building? Is the proposed library in the right place?

On Sept. 14, registered voters who live in the Oak Harbor School District boundary will go to the ballot in order to answer these questions. They will decide whether or not to raise their own property taxes in order to fund construction of a new, $12 million library in downtown Oak Harbor.

Some folks who have strong feelings about the election may be able to write a statement for the voters’ pamphlet.

Sno-Isle Library District board, Island County commissioners and the city of Oak Harbor have officially approved a resolution that will place the question on the ballot. Voters will be asked to approve the creation of a library capital facility area, known as the Oak Harbor Library Capital Facilities Area, on North Whidbey from Deception Pass to Libbey Road.

In addition, the voters will be asked to approve issuance of a $12 million, 20-year, general obligation bond, and to levy excess property taxes to repay the bonds. If approved, it would amount to 34 cents for each $1,000 of assessed value, according to Sno-Isle spokesperson Mary Kelly. For the owner of a $200,000 house, that’s $68 a year for 20 years, starting in 2006.

Sno-Isle Regional Library System board met in Oak Harbor Monday. Trustees agreed to advertise they are looking for “pro and con statements” on the Oak Harbor library proposal, to be published in the Island County voters’ pamphlet.

Any individual or group interested in writing such a statement should submit their name, telephone number, e-mail or fax number (if available) to the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees. Names may be submitted via e-mail to trustees@sno-isle.org, by fax to 360-651-7151, or by mail to the Sno-Isle Board of Trustees, 7312 35th Ave NE, Marysville, WA, 98271, no later than Wednesday, July 7, at 5 p.m

Those who submit their names should indicate if they support or in oppose the levy. Sno-Isle will submit the first three names received to the Island County Auditor’s Office.

The site for the proposed 30,000 square foot library is located between SE Pioneer and SE Bayshore adjacent to Hal Ramaley Park. The building, which will be a regional reference center, will have room for 200,000 books and other materials, 122 parking spaces, 50 public computers, two conference or study rooms, a children’s storytelling room, and a Friend of the Library bookstore.

In 2003, there were on average more than 900 visitors a day to the Oak Harbor Library. Since 1994, program attendance has increased by 26 percent, according to Sno-Isle.

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