LAKE STEVENS — Voters here appear to be rejecting a $17 million bond for a new library.
Initial election results showed that the measure had about 51 percent of the vote, coming up short of the 60 percent threshold for bonds.
The plan was to build a library that would have been nearly eight times the size of the current space and owned and operated by Sno-Isle Libraries. It would have gone up in the Chapel Hill neighborhood. The existing library is in a city-owned building on property that is slated to be redeveloped as part of the city’s downtown planning and North Cove Park overhaul.
It’s unclear at this point what will happen with the library space, but Sno-Isle is committed to continuing to provide service in Lake Stevens, Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. The library district plans to work with city leaders on what comes next. Whether the library will stay at North Cove much longer is “just not an answer that’s available at the moment,” Sno-Isle spokesman Jim Hills said Wednesday.
This is the second time the library bond has been on the ballot.
In February 2018, voters in the same boundaries as the Lake Stevens School District approved forming a Library Capital Facility Area, the first step in paying for a library bond. In the same election, more than 60 percent of voters said yes to the bond itself. That normally would have been enough to pass, but the election was the first one after a presidential vote and the overall voter turnout requirement — 40 percent of the most recent election — was a higher bar than usual. Too few ballots were cast.
This time around, the turnout was far above the minimum, but votes in support weren’t enough.
If the bond measure fails in the final results, the capital facility area will be dissolved. State law allows two attempts to pass a bond. A capital facility area would have to be approved again in order to pursue a bond in the future.
The goal has been to open a new library by fall 2020. The 20-year bond proposal is for $17 million and the estimated cost to taxpayers would be about 21 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, or roughly $74 a year on a $350,000 home.
The library measure shared the ballot with two school levies for the Lake Stevens district, one for programs and operations and another for technology and capital projects. The technology levy was passing in early results, while the operations levy remained on the edge of the 50 percent needed for approval.
There’s been confusion and concern over taxes and the effect statewide changes are having on local property owners, Woolf-Ivory said.
Lake Stevens also is looking at a large anticipated increase in property tax bills this year: a 27 percent jump.
Woolf-Ivory said the library district and city need to look closely at the election results and likely bring together focus groups and gather feedback from the public.
“I think there are a couple of things that need to take place over this year,” she said. “I think it would be an error on our part just to move forward, and at the same time I think it would be an error on our part just to assume that the community doesn’t want a new library. The results last year on the funding were much different than this.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.