Sno-Isle Libraries levy officially passes by less than ½%

Of 120,261 ballots cast in Snohomish and Island counties, 60,678 — 50.46 percent — were in favor.

MARYSVILLE — Voters in Island County made the difference.

A tax increase to support operations at 23 libraries in Snohomish and Island counties passed by less than half a percentage point. That’s a turnaround from election night, when the measure was narrowly trailing.

Of 120,261 ballots cast between the two counties, 60,678 — 50.46 percent — were in favor of the levy lift for Sno-Isle Libraries.

In Snohomish County, 52 percent of voters opposed the measure. However, Island County voters turned out in strong support, with nearly 62 percent in favor.

Snohomish County had more than four times the number of ballots cast as Island County, but the high rate of passage in the smaller county was enough to tip the results in favor of the measure. Island County also had significantly higher voter turnout in this election: nearly 40 percent compared to about 26 percent in Snohomish County.

The canvassing boards in both counties met Friday to certify the April 24 election results.

With the measure’s passage, the levy for the library district is set to increase by 9 cents per $1,000 assessed property value in 2019. That will bring it up to 47 cents per $1,000. The increase would be about $27 a year on a $300,000 home.

Sno-Isle Libraries relies on property taxes for 98 percent of its funding. If the levy measure hadn’t passed, officials anticipated cuts to staff, hours and programs.

The last levy increase for Sno-Isle was in 2009. The district covers most of Snohomish County. It does not include the city of Everett, which has its own library system.

Sno-Isle Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory noted in a news release that “the slim margin of passage is a reminder that we must show voters the value they are receiving from their tax dollars every day.”

She said the plan is to maintain services while boosting reserves so voters won’t have to consider another increase for a while.

A levy for the Darrington School District also passed with 63 percent of the vote. A measure to merge the fire districts in Gold Bar and Index passed with 77 percent.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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