05/03/2012: "-- Guest Column --"
By Paul Dossett
San Juan Islanders received a mailer from the San Juan Island Library this week. The mailer is supposedly giving the electorate the facts relating to the Levy Lid Lift Ballot for the August 16th 2011 Primary Election.
Every community should have a library and most of the ferry served islands have Library Districts, similar to San Juan Island.
Since the formation of the SJ Library District in 1982, voters approved a lid lift in 1993 increasing the tax rate to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
The recent library mailer is very careful not to mention how much property tax revenue the SJ Library is or will be allowed to collect if the lid lift request passes in August. Over time since 1982 and in addition of the voter approved previous lid lift in 1993, the district is now allowed and is collecting $865,081.00 for tax year 2011. That is twice as much property tax as the Town of Friday Harbor is allowed to collect.
The “rest of the story” is SJ Library District is asking voters to approve another lid lift to raise the tax rate to $.39 cents. Using the 2011 approximate assessed value of the district, the allowable property tax revenue for the library beginning in 2012 will be about $1,263,579.00 if voters approve the lid lift August 16th. That is approximately a 47% increase in property tax revenue from 2011.
Let’s compare SJ Library 2011 allowable property tax revenue of $865,081 to other Library Districts in the county. Orcas Library is allowed to collect $542,569 and Lopez Library is allowed to collect $389,220.
It is important the electorate be informed about issues with eyes wide open before voting. The SJ Library mailer you received only gave you part of the story regarding tax rates; the rest of the story about how much revenue the tax rates will generate is just as important for voter information. Truth in taxation is imperative.
Libraries are essential to community life as are other services we receive, but how much is enough?
(Paul Dossett is the former San Juan County Assessor)