Why I’m voting NO on the library

January 22nd, 2009 by Ken

I’m voting NO on the library issue.  I’m voting to reject the levy lid lift Timberland Regional Library has placed before the voters on February 3.  And, here’s why.

This is a huge tax increase, almost 52 percent in taxing authority.   The cost to run this ballot measure alone, in five counties is nearly $400,000.  It could have been placed on the November ballot for far less because then, everyone shared the cost.

The February ballot prevents voters from being presented with a pro or a con statement since there is no Voter’s Pamphlet.   The Library System was offered the opportunity to have a pamphlet, at a cost of only $10,000, but turned it down.  Apparently they want ignorant voters.

Timberland says that if this levy doesn’t pass, it will have to lay off staff.  Yet it created its own problem by hiring 80 new employees over the past three years, while money was pouring in, and now that the money has dried up, it can’t pay for all of its new employees.  (Half of which work at headquarters and not in the local libraries.)

There are also problems with the polices of Timberland Regional Library (hereafter refered to as TRL). 

In some parts of the five-county district, TRL provides buildings in addition to service and staffing.   But, in Thurston County, TRL provides only services and staffing.  Taxpayers of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater provide their own buildings, but city residents pay the same property tax as does the counties.  TRL spends less money on library services in Thurston County than it does in other counties.  This seems unfair.

The seven-member TRL board is not accountable to the public.  They are appointed, by the county commissioners, for a seven-year term (longer than the state supreme court) and cannot be removed except for “just cause.”  It is the only non-elected board which has the ability to levy property taxes.

Thurston County comprises nearly 60 percent of the total library users, 60 percent of the population and 60 percent of the taxpayers, yet it only has two members on the seven member board.   This is unfair representation.

Even if we are unhappy with TRL we cannot withdraw.  We are prohibited from doing so, once we have signed on.

TRL operates in a veil of secrecy.  It moves its meeting location around the five county area and refuses to have its meetings televised.   This seems particularly inappropriate for an agency with a mission of providing public information.

(Some information for this article came from Ken Bragg, a former member of TRL board and Bob Jacobs, former mayor of the City of Olympia.)

Posted in Government, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

(comments are closed).