Poor time to ask for more; vote ‘No’ on Prop. 1 | Editorial

Numbers never really speak for themselves, though some may say otherwise.

Quite often they are manufactured, twisted or turned inside out to bolster a pre-determined point of view.

Still, numbers do make a big difference in determining whether to support or reject the San Juan Island Library’s appeal for raising its property-tax levy by 12-cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s Proposition No. 1 on your primary election ballot, due Aug. 16.

For voters on San Juan Island, it’s the only question on that ballot.

Though it’s a close call, we believe the library and its board of trustees should look for ways to trim expenses, like closing Sundays, perhaps, and only then come back to the voters with a scaled down request.

With so many struggling to make ends meet, it’s a poor time for any public agency to ask for more, even the library. The owner of a $300,000 home would pay $37 more a year; a $500,000 home, $62, and a $1 million, about $123.

If approved, Prop. 1 would generate an additional $404,000 a year; that’s about 45 percent more than the library receives now via its property-tax levy. That’s a big jump. Too big.

It’s true the library, like all taxing districts, is constrained by a 1 percent limitation on the amount its levy can grow each year. And its 42 percent jump in circulation is to be applauded.

It’s also true that the library has relied on its “reserves” to maintain its current level of service, and intends to do so again in the coming year.

The library truly is a unique and beloved public institution. But a 45 percent increase is simply out of step with these economic times.


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