Opinion

EDITORIAL: Library levy needs support

Whidbey Island residents have a vested interest in helping to assure that Sno-Isle Regional Library System has the money it needs to operate well into the future.

Whidbey is home to excellent libraries in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and Clinton, all of which couldn’t exist without the Sno-Isle system. Sno-Isle provides the staffing and materials, including quick access to hundreds of thousands of volumes that can be delivered in a day or two. Oak Harbor is planning a new library, with some of the expertise provided by Sno-Isle. Once built, Sno-Isle will make sure the facility is staffed and equipped adequately.

Thousands of island kids have learned to read before entering school thanks to the wonderful selection of children’s books and programs available at the library. Library resources help them get through school, all the way from kindergarten through college. And as adults, the library offers thousands of titles that provide reading pleasure or further education. Some libraries also provide public meeting rooms that otherwise are in short supply on the island.

Voters years ago decided that the invaluable Sno-Isle library system was worth 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value in property taxes. That enables the system to keep up with inflation, modernize when necessary and help communities plan their library building programs. If you own a $200,000 house that’s a hundred bucks a year for unlimited access to pretty much any information you need, for your entire family. It’s one of the few taxes that provides something good for everyone. For example, we don’t mind paying the emergency services tax, but we hope never to need those emergency services ourselves. If you’re not benefiting from the library tax, it’s your own fault. And even then, you’re benefiting indirectly as others become more productive citizens through learning.

Sno-Isle’s dependable funding source fell victim to Initiative 747, which limited property taxes increases to 1 percent annually. As a result, the traditional 50 cents per thousand has dipped to about 44 cents. Restoring the 50 cent levy will cost the owner of that $200,000 house only 12 dollars a year. Definitely a small price to pay to retain a healthy, growing library system.

An election will be held Tuesday, Feb. 4, asking voters to approve the 50 cent level of library funding. Thousands of voters already have their absentee ballots, which were mailed out last week. Vote yes to avoid seeing our library services erode in coming years.

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