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Library won't ask for 2008 tax increase

Taxpayers will not see a proposal to increase property taxes to better fund the North Olympic Library System this November.

Instead, at its Feb. 28 meeting, the library board of directors opted to wait at least one year before asking voters for a lift in its levy amount, a recommendation forwarded by a citizens' advisory committee assigned to research the possible ballot measure.

"We believe there is widespread support for the library (system) throughout Clallam County," committee chairman Gary Colley said. "But you need to do a better job of educating people about your services as well as your budget challenges."

The library system has been looking into ways to increase revenue for years, as it and other taxing districts in the state are limited to property tax revenue increases of no more than 1 percent each year unless specifically approved by voters.

The cumulative effect of the law has been an erosion of library services as inflation has caused increases in annual operating costs at a rate greater than 1 percent, according to a library system press release.

Colley gave several reasons for the delay. The library director, Paula Barnes, has been on staff for less than nine months and the committee called for her to complete an internal assessment of the system before plans for a levy lid lift move forward, including making present operations more effective.

The library board indicated it agreed with the committee's findings, adding that a weakening economy, local concern about property taxes and the plans of other taxing districts for tax measures create a very poor climate for a library tax election.

"We now have a much clearer idea of the work we need to do before we can ask Clallam County taxpayers for more money," library board chairwoman Sue Cohn said. "We are extraordinarily fortunate to have the wisdom and advice of this group of citizen volunteers."

A separate citizen's advisory committee made the final recommendation after press deadline March 3 for the placement of a bond on a ballot this fall for the expansion of the Sequim branch. Check SequimGazette.com for updates.

The North Olympic Library System manages four libraries countywide, in Sequim, Port Angeles, Clallam Bay and Forks. For information about library operations, materials, locations or library board agendas and minutes, visit www.nols.org or call 417-8504.

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