CITY BALLOT: Spokane Library Levy on Ballot
By Steve Jackson
The Spokane Library system is hoping city voters will approve a levy that they says will help prevent future branch closures.
Spokane voters are being asked to approve a levy to help fund the city’s Library Department. Library officials say tightening of the city’s budget has made for some lean times for their branches. The Libraries get funding from the city’s general fund, which has taken a big hit in recent years, with the city barely able to maintain Police and fire protection.
Communications Manager Eva Silverstone says the library cut five staff members in the last year, and has had to reduce hours at the Hillyard and Indian Trail branches to just four and a half hours a day.
Silverstone: “If the levy is approved we would be able to open those branches 8 hours a day five days a week, so forty hours a week, and that would be a great improvement for the public, because figuring out when those branches are open is complicated.”
Silverstone says the Libraries are busier than ever, with 900 thousand visits to city branches last year.
She says if the levy fails, there could be more cuts on the way.
Silverstone: “If the levy doesn’t pass, we would be seeing about a 500 thousand dollar deficit going in to 2014 and that’s likely to be about two of those branches would have to close.”
One who is opposed to the Library Levy is City Councilman Mike Fagan, who says city residents should be braced for even further costs coming their way down the road.
Fagan: “You've got a public safety bond coming up, because we need to do something about the personnel numbers in the police and fire departments. now you’ve got the second ten year street bond, and the school district will come back for another bond issue..."
The levy would add 7 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value, or seven dollars a year for a one hundred thousand dollar home. The increase would remain in effect for four years.
Ballots have already been mailed out, they must be mailed back to the elections office by February 12th.