Two cities to vote on library taxes

A pair of library-related proposals that would shift borders, create new taxes and build a library are notable among 10 propositions that will appear on Snohomish County general-election ballots.

The city of Lynnwood is asking residents to annex themselves into the Sno-Isle Intercounty Rural Library District, which would increase taxes for homeowners but free up some funds for city capital projects.

The annexation would cost property owners 42.3 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their homes, or about $84.60 per year for a $200,000 home, according to Sno-Isle Libraries.

By annexing into the library district, the city would save about $1.1 million a year that it usually pays to Sno-Isle Libraries in fees, said Sno-Isle Libraries spokeswoman Mary Kelly.

The $1.1 million comes out of the city's general fund, so taxpayers are already paying for the library through the city. But fees the library charges the city are less than what homeowners would pay directly to the library district, and the city isn't going to reduce taxes if the measure passes.

The other library measure is in Arlington, where the city wants to build a bigger, better library across the street from the current facility. The proposal is for an $8.1 million bond that would cost residents about 18 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value — about $36 per year on a $200,000 home, or $54 for a $300,000 home.

The proposed library, though it hasn't been designed yet, would be four times as large, have about twice the number of materials, four times more computers and six times the parking as the current facility, according to information from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Several other propositions on the ballot in Snohomish County would maintain or increase levies for fire districts. The town of Darrington and Fire District 24 will vote on whether the town should become part of the fire district.

Sultan residents will vote on a levy worth 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed value that would go toward hiring a police officer and replacing police equipment.

Polling by proponents of the Arlington library measure shows that it's likely to pass.

"I think it has an excellent chance of passing," said George Boulton, a retired Arlington florist who is the chair of Citizens for a New Arlington Library, a group promoting the measure.

Arlington purchased the land the new library would sit on and will provide it free to the library system if the ballot measure passes.

The current library, built in 1981, would become a community center with meeting rooms, Boulton said.

In a phone poll of more than 1,700 people, 73 percent of those who responded said they would vote "yes" on the proposition, Boulton said.

The measure needs at least 60 percent of the vote to pass.

It's the second time the city has tried to raise funds to build a new library. A similar measure was on the ballot several years ago, but Boulton said a poor site was proposed for the library and a number of other city projects were competing for voter attention.

The Lynnwood proposition faces some opposition.

A similar measure on this year's primary ballot that would have included Woodway in the Sno-Isle library system fell far short, with about 77 percent of voters opposing the measure.

"It clearly is a tax increase, there's no question about that," said Lynnwood Councilwoman Lisa Utter.

She's hoping residents will see the measure as a proactive move that would ensure library services in the city while freeing up funds for other public projects like paving roads and moving forward with a community center or new senior center.

A simple majority would pass the measure.

Even if it fails, the city would continue to pay fees to Sno-Isle Libraries so the Lynnwood branch isn't shut down, Utter said.

Brian Alexander: 425-745-7845 or