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Library levy a good deal for East County

Troutdale residents will get their long-promised branch library - and residents of Gresham and Fairview will see strong services continue at their three branches - if voters approve a new five-year operating levy for Multnomah County libraries.

The levy, which appears as Measure 26-81 on the Nov. 7 ballot, would replace a five-year levy approved in 2002. The previous levy doesn't expire until 2008. However, under Oregon's double-majority requirement for elections, this November is the only realistic time for the levy election to be held.

It's unfortunate that the county library system's existence is dependent on a temporary levy, which provides more than half the library system's funding. But when the levy comes up for renewal, it does give voters an opportunity to reflect upon the value of libraries.

Multnomah County residents are among the most avid library users in the country, and they expect a high-quality system. In addition to maintaining current hours at the main Gresham branch, the Rockwood branch and the Fairview-Columbia branch, the levy will allow the county library system to continue programs for school-age children and book deliveries to seniors. And East County residents will get even better service, because the proposed Troutdale branch is guaranteed in the levy language.

This five-year levy would increase the library's tax rate from 75.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to 89 cents. That difference of 13.5 cents per $1,000 would mean that the owner of a home assessed at $200,000 would pay about $26 more per year in property taxes than he or she does now.

That comes to just over $2 a month, which is a small price to pay for excellent libraries in East County. The Outlook recommends a yes vote on Measure 26-81.