Since 1976, public library service in Washington County has been provided through a partnership of the County, nine cities and three nonprofit organizations. Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) is the primary source of funding for public library operations countywide. Additionally, WCCLS’ central support and services link city and community libraries together into one system, creating broad access to books and other library materials for all county residents. About 40% of WCCLS funding comes from an expiring local option property tax levy.
If passed, what would Measure 34-297 do?
Measure 34-297 would renew a five-year levy that will expire in June 2021 at the same fixed rate of $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. The levy would, if approved, also provide about 40% of WCCLS funding and would run from July 2021 through June 2026. If passed, the levy would maintain current levels of countywide library service for another five years, which includes the following:
- Funding for public library operations: Measure 34-297 would provide funding to maintain open hours for libraries that serve all county residents, including libraries in Aloha, Banks, Beaverton, Cedar Mill, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Garden Home, Hillsboro, North Plains, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin and West Slope. Libraries saw 3.8 million visits in fiscal year 2018-19.
- Reading programs for children: Measure 34-297 would provide funding for children’s reading events that average about 285,000 participants each year. This includes annual summer reading programs for youth and literacy programs for preschoolers. In addition, libraries provide reading and learning programs for students, including online homework and tutoring services for all children in Washington County.
- Book purchases: The measure would provide funding for the continued purchase of books, e-books and other materials that are available to all library users. If passed, the levy would fund the continued purchase of additional copies of in-demand books in order to keep wait times down. Levy funding would also provide online access that allows users to reserve books that can be picked up at any library. In fiscal year 2018-19, WCCLS library users checked out over 11.2 million library materials.
- Resources for jobseekers: Measure 34-297 would allow libraries to continue to provide information, resources and instruction to assist those looking for jobs or career development. Jobseekers could continue to use library computers and internet access to apply for jobs, and access learning tools for career development.
- Central support and services that link libraries together: Measure 34-297 would maintain central support and services, which include the following: central sorting and book delivery between 16 libraries seven days a week, allowing all county residents to access the shared collection of 1.6 million books and other materials; shared library inventory management and online request system; the wccls.org website; shared library events calendar; and book deliveries to county residents who are homebound or living in care facilities.
If passed, how would the levy affect a homeowner’s taxes?
Measure 34-297 would renew a five-year levy that is expiring in June 2021. The levy would maintain a fixed rate of $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value, running from July 2021 through June 2026. In 2021, typical homeowners with an assessed value of $300,000 (not market value) would pay $66 per year.
What would happen if the levy does not pass?
Reductions in service levels would likely occur based on local library priorities, including reductions in hours, book purchases and events, as well as reductions in countywide services such as the countywide online catalog and book delivery. Homeowners would not be assessed the tax of $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value.
This information, except for the website link(s), was reviewed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office for compliance with ORS 260.432.