Camano Island library proposal returns to voters

CAMANO ISLAND — Voters on Camano Island have a second chance to approve funding for a new permanent library in the April 22 special election.

In the August 2013 special election, voters approved creating a special taxing district for the library, but the bond measure to fund the library did not achieve the 60 percent supermajority to pass.

It came up 75 votes short of the threshold.

Sno-Isle Libraries has been operating a Camano branch in the Terry’s Corner neighborhood for seven years. The lease for that property ends at the end of April.

“If the bond measure fails, the library will close at the end of April,” said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, executive director of Sno-Isle Libraries.

The temporary library has been considered a pilot project to demonstrate library services, she said.

If the bond measure passes, the library system may try to negotiate a month-to-month lease to keep the old library open for the 9-12 months it will take to open the new one, Woolf-Ivory said.

Ballots will soon begin arriving in mailboxes. They must be postmarked or put in a designated dropbox by April 22. (A dropbox is located at the Island County Camano Annex at 121 N. East Camano Dr.)

Proposition 1 will ask voters to approve the $2.3 million 10-year bond. If it passes, Camano Island property owners would pay on their property taxes an additional 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

For a $250,000 home, that would amount to approximately $22.50 in property taxes per year.

The new library building would be in the old Islanders Restaurant building, located at 848 N. Sunrise Blvd. The bond would pay for the renovation, reconfiguring and equipping of the building into a 4,900-square-foot facility.

Sno-Isle Libraries bought the building last year for $625,000. The building’s former owners were heading into foreclosure, but the library system was able to negotiate a purchase before it went to auction, and ended up spending less than anticipated, said Ken Harvey, communications director for Sno-Isle.

The purchase money came out of the libraries’ reserve fund for real estate. If the bond measure fails, the building would most likely be sold.

In the wake of the failure of the August bond issue, Sno-Isle Libraries has been holding public meetings and presentations in Camano, put out more information on its website, and has heard from more than 100 people who were dismayed with the result of the election.

“Many did not realize that both measures had to pass in order for a permanent library to become a reality,” Harvey said.

“Some didn’t turn in their ballots, some people had questions that hadn’t been answered, they found it convenient to say ‘no’ in August,” he added.

They hope the outreach campaign will sway enough voters to make up the difference. Even the fact that another library exists in Stanwood 4.4 miles away from the planned Camano location shouldn’t be a factor, Harvey said.

“A significant number of people on the island have been clear that they would want a library on their own island and not have to travel off,” he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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