Sno-Isle Library levy too close to call in special election

Meanwhile, in Darrington, a school levy was passing in the early results.

MARYSVILLE — The vote on a proposal to increase taxes to pay for local libraries was too close to call Tuesday night in early election results.

An initial count from the special election shows the levy measure, which needs a simple majority of more than 50 percent to pass, on the cusp at 49.62 percent approval. Voters in Snohomish County were leaning toward rejecting the measure, while Island County voters were strongly supporting. More ballots remain to be counted in the coming days.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, 83,620 ballots had been returned in Snohomish County, about a 22 percent voter turnout.

The Sno-Isle Library District is asking for an increase in its levy to support the operation of 23 libraries in Snohomish and Island counties. The rate would go up 9 cents, from 38 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to 47 cents per $1,000. Voters last increased the library district’s levy rate in 2009.

“I think it’s just too early to kind of analyze what we think is going on,” said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Sno-Isle Libraries executive director. “With just these few votes separating it, I think we’re all really looking forward to seeing the vote count tomorrow.”

The library district has said that, without the increase, it expects to reduce staffing, hours and programs, among other cuts. It’s not an easy time to ask taxpayers for more, and the initial results are understandable, Woolf-Ivory said in a news release.

The district aimed to be clear in information it provided about the measure and now “it really is just waiting to see what happens,” spokesman Jim Hills said.

Along with the library measure, voters in Darrington are deciding on a local school levy. It is the second attempt by the district to pass a measure to pay for operational expenses not covered by state dollars.

In the early results, the levy was passing, with about 58 percent of voters in favor. The previous attempt, in February, failed by 4 percentage points.

The levy is for $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value, and is expected to generate $520,600 per year for the next four years. It’s meant to replace an expiring operations levy, though at a lower rate. New state requirements cap local school levies to offset an increase in state taxes for schools.

The fire districts in Gold Bar and Index also are seeking voter approval to merge. They’ve been joined under a contract since last year. The voters in fire districts 26 and 28 were soundly approving the merger in the first tally of the ballots, with 78 percent supporting it.

Results are expected to be certified May 4.

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