Sequim Library expansion proposition falls short

Sequim Library expansion proposition falls short

A proposal to expand a building that library officials say is too small and in need of an upgrade fell just short in the general election on Nov. 6.

The majority of residents in Sequim and surrounding areas voted for the North Olympic Library System’s $12.4 million bond proposal to expand the Sequim Library, but not enough to meet the supermajority 60 percent threshold.

As of the Nov. 9 count, Proposition 2 garnered 10,333 votes or 58.5 percent, to 7,324 votes or 41.5 percent against the measure.

The proposal would pay for enlargement of the 1983 Sequim Library building from 6,050 square feet to 17,000 square feet.

Residents needed to approve two library system proposals, but voters only approved Proposition No. 1 (11,457, or 65.2 percent, in favor, to 6,125 votes, or 35.8 percent against) that creates the Sequim Library Capital Facilities Area tax district, roughly the same boundaries as Sequim School District.

In a statement released on election night, NOLS Library Director Margaret Jakubcin said, “Based on early results, the current ballot count does not look promising, but, we are going to wait for the next official count before commenting further.”

She added, “Regardless of the final outcome, the library wants to thank all who have been so committed to the community’s vision for its future library. The library building project connected community members to each other, and to the library, in a unique way as we worked together with a shared vision. The outpouring of support that NOLS has experienced during this time has been truly inspiring. The 64 percent approval of Proposition 1 is gratifying, and I think it clearly reflects strong local support for the library.”

In an interview on Nov. 12, Jakubcin said based on the assumption that Proposition 2 will not reach the 60 percent supermajority, the NOLS board will look at the election results and pertinent data and get community input before it decides what to do next.

“It was a very disappointing outcome to come so close and not get there,” Jakubcin said.

“It does reflect what we have been saying for years and why NOLS pursued this with such tenacity is the sense that there’s community support for doing something to expand and modernize the library in Sequim.”

Jakubcin said if the board decides it wants to run the measure again, state law allows the measure can be run again within a two-year period but it must be run in a similar election, such as a general or primary.

“That opportunity only comes in a limited number of elections,” Jakubcin said. “We know the earliest if (NOLS) went down that road would be the primary election in 2019 is the first time they could try.”

If the measure does run again, it must pass by 60 percent supermajority and the number of people that vote in that election must be at least 40 percent of those that voted in the prior similar election, Jakubcin said.

“NOLS is committed to continue to provide the best service possible regardless of what the facility is,” Jakubcin said.

“I was very pleased to see (the community) did give support to other public service funding needs like the fire department and transportation infrastructure and I hope we can continue to see that.”

Paula Barnes, campaign steering committee member, said obtaining 60 percent approval for the bond measure is a challenging threshold to reach.

“We’re very grateful to the voters who showed their support for the library by forming the tax district,” Barnes said.

“We’re sad the vote for the bond issue is so close, and right now it’s not close enough.”

Barnes said she has some hope for the ballots and votes still coming but is proud of all the effort the campaign and volunteers put into getting the word out to the community.

“We had so many dedicated and hard-working volunteers,” she said. “I can’t think of anything more we could have done to get the word out.”

The new Sequim Library expansion would have cost $13.4 million, with $1 million coming from library system reserves and the rest coming from tax levies and bonds that are paid off over the next 21 years.

The expansion would have cost tax payers a little less than $5 per month (for owners of properties with an assessed value of $250,000).

Jakubcin said previously that efforts to expand the Sequim Library has been a long-standing community conversation.

“I think the need is pretty well understood,” Jakubcin said.

“A big part of our effort is educating people about the fact that the (Sequim) library is too small,” Barnes said during the campaign.

The next ballot count on Nov. 13 came after press time. By the Nov. 9, count, all 32 precincts approved of Proposition 1 while all but three approved Proposition 2, including Agnew 201 (229-273), Blue Mountain 209 (340-397), and Monterra 249 (298-306).

For more information about the library system, see www.nols.org.

See the campaign website at www.sequimlibraryvoteyes.org.

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