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Library will again seek funding via increase in sales tax

By Katie Klingsporn

Triplicate staff writer

The Del Norte County Library District was dealt a crushing blow in November 2004 when a measure that would have raised funds for the cashed-strapped institution lost by a miniscule margin in the general election.

"It was horribly heartbreaking," said library board member Susan Morrison.

But the tax measure's loss strengthened the will of the campaigners to bring it back before the voters and get it passed, she said.

And that's what they intend to do in 2006.

The first step is getting it passed — in the form of an ordinance — by the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

This ordinance will be introduced to the board during its Tuesday meeting.

It proposes a one-quarter of 1 percent increase in sales tax that would last for eight years.

The money generated from the tax increase would go solely to the library to help it do things like restore its limited hours and staff, enhance access, open a multi-media activity center, bring the budget for new books back to previous levels and restore literacy and reading programs.

Getting the ordinance passed by the board is just the first step in getting the tax in place, said County Counsel Bob Black. The library district will then have to put it on the ballot, and it requires a two-thirds vote to pass, he said.

Measure A —the tax measure narrowly defeated in 2004 — called for a sales tax increase of one-eighth of one percent. It failed by 63 votes to garner the necessary two-thirds approval.

Directly after its failure, the library cut one part-time position and cut reference desk hours. It was already operating on limited hours.

Morrison said the financial situation of Del Norte's library has only worsened since then.

"Since the last measure went before the voters, the funding situation has gotten even more bleak," she said. "Other revenues coming in have decreased even more."

The only regular revenues to the Del Norte Library district are a small share of property and timber taxes collected in the county — both of which have decreased in recent years.

According to county documents, Del Norte County Library District receives per capita revenues of just $4.36 compared to the statewide average of $42 for libraries of similar size.

Morrison said the committee that created and campaigned for the first measure has already tripled in size and enthusiasm, and she believes the chances of passing this tax are good.

"Really, the vast majority of the community supports the library and the tax increase," she said. "It's really about getting that last little bit."

 


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