Once in 55 years. That was the closing thought Kitsap Regional Library Director Jill Jean left members of the North Kitsap Herald Advisory Board with Monday night. She was talking about a levy lift for the library system, which has seen its usage here bloom and revenues wilt since Initiative 747 took hold across Washington.
I-747 forced 1 percent annual revenue limitations on such junior taxing districts, leaving them at the mercy of the voters to ultimately decide which to nurture or let die on the vine.
Not wanting to see the latter for this county’s excellent library program, the board was unanimous in its support of the 18 cent levy increase per $1,000 assessed property valuation. While this will bring the total collected to 48 cents, the board agreed one would be hard pressed to find a better bargain.
Being home to the famous Hansville Rummage Sale, that’s saying something, too.
Audrey Newell, public relations director for KRL, pointed out that in North Kitsap, the future of three of KRL’s nine branches hangs in the balance: Kingston, Little Boston and Boston. The latter of which has seen a 48 percent increase in usage since 2001. Countywide, in that same time frame, the demands for service have followed suit, surpassing the revenues at KRL by a ratio more than four to one.
The board was impressed by the fact that three quarters of Kitsap County — some 176,188 people — are active library card holders who have used the system in the past two years.
That statistic alone is reason enough to give the levy lift the OK on May 15. But Jean and Newell weren’t done yet.
They noted that while the KRL can seek up to 50 cents, it cut its request short knowing that it could “get by” with less. The fact that officials there took this tack serves as yet another illustration of how the efficient system works for the people.
Furthermore, the KRL hasn’t asked for a levy lift since Jimmy Carter was in the Oval Office. That’s quite a tribute to its long-standing commitment to the community and — more so — its taxpayers. The commitment and growing partnership should between the two continue, the board agreed.
“Libraries are expected to be there,” one board member remarked.
Supporting the levy lift is one way to be certain they continue to be.