Yes to reasonable request by Sno-Isle Library System

Every healthy community has some critical things in common — a solid business base, affordable homes, parks and recreation, strong hospitals and libraries. Yes, libraries.

Libraries don’t save lives, provide shelter for our families or contribute to a city’s tax base, but they are the basis for equal access to information — the starting point for all those things that make our communities vital and vibrant.

Some cities offer residents their own library. Other areas rely on a regional library system to provide them with everything from books to CDs to periodicals and Internet access. Many areas of Snohomish and Island counties are fortunate to have the Sno-Isle Regional Library System.

Voters in both counties should say a resounding yes Tuesday to Sno-Isle’s request to restore the district’s levy lid on taxes to make up for a looming budget shortfall.

If approved, the levy lid would return to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. It’s at 46 cents right now and can’t go any higher than 50 cents. That amounts to an additional $8 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home. Investing our community’s necessities now will keep it healthy later on.

If the measure fails, Sno-Isle will have to compensate for an $800,000 shortfall by closing all libraries for one week next year, spending $214,000 less on books and other materials and closing four of its libraries one day a week. For regular library patrons, those will be drastic measures. For others, it will come as a shock when they reach the library doors in a rush only to find them locked.

The measure was put before voters and narrowly defeated in February. Library officials regrouped to examine the situation and focus on getting more information to people this time around. Hopefully, last winter’s failure was due to a lack of information and not a result of some voters’ concerns about Internet filters. While good people on both sides of the Internet issue can disagree, all of us should be on the same side when it comes to providing library access to our families. Voters should remember that the Internet filter issue will be decided by the courts, not this levy.

With the surprising illiteracy problem this country still has, saying yes to stronger libraries should come naturally.

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