Sno-Isle Library District seeks tax hike on April 24 ballot

The library district’s levy rate would rise to 47 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value.

MARYSVILLE — The Sno-Isle Library District is asking voters to approve a tax increase that would support operations at 23 libraries in Snohomish and Island counties.

The Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees voted unanimously in December to put the measure on the April 24 ballot. Those ballots are to be mailed to voters Thursday.

The request from Sno-Isle is to raise its levy rate from 38 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to 47 cents per $1,000, starting in 2019. On a $250,000 home, that would increase the library tax from $95 to about $118 a year. On a $500,000 home, it would go from $190 to $235. That does not factor in changes in property values year-over-year.

Ten open houses are scheduled over the next two weeks, and the information also is available at sno-isle.org/levy.

The library district last requested a tax rate increase, which was approved by voters, in 2009. Sno-Isle libraries serve most of Snohomish County. Their coverage area does not include the city of Everett.

For several years, the district has been relying on its financial reserves to help balance the budget and to delay the need for another levy increase, according to a news release.

“Talking about property taxes right now is tough,” executive director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said.

In the February election, Sno-Isle asked voters in Lake Stevens to approve a bond for a new library there. That measure failed. It needed 60 percent approval.

The levy measure would require a simple majority of more than 50 percent to pass.

Sno-Isle officials say that if voters do not approve the increase, they expect to cut staff, reduce open hours at libraries and decrease the number of new materials purchased. The cuts would total $2 million in 2019.

Sno-Isle has budgeted about $48 million for operations in 2018. Nearly all of the revenue comes from property taxes. About 2 percent is from timber harvests, donations and other sources.

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

Sno-Isle open houses in Snohomish County:

Edmonds Library, 6 p.m. Monday.

Mill Creek City Hall, 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Lynnwood and Marysville libraries, 6 p.m. April 11.

Mukilteo and Stanwood libraries, 6 p.m. April 12.

Snohomish and Lakewood/Smokey Point libraries, 10:30 a.m. April 14.

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