Whats up with another library vote?

(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Lou Ogden is the mayor of Tualatin.)

So, we voted on a new library two years ago… something about 'yes twice.' Then we voted last spring on money to run it, right? So why are we being asked to vote again?

Good question. Sometimes, in government, things are not always as they seem. Please let me explain.

In November 2004, based upon the results of an extensive facilities visioning effort, the City Council placed a bond measure on the ballot to approve money to build a new library expansion.

However, the council realized the greatly expanded library would soon cost much more to operate than the existing small library. So, in addition to the bond measure to build the library, we placed on the same ballot a five-year levy to operate the new library. In fact, we made the bond to build contingent upon the approval of the levy to operate. As you may recall, the bond to build passed, but the levy to operate failed.

The reason we placed the operating levy alongside the building bond is because we didn't want to take money from parks, police, etc., to subsidize the expanded library.

However, because of the incredible rising costs of steel and construction in the last couple years, it became obvious that if we didn't build the library soon, within a few years the bond wouldn't come close to paying the construction costs. So last May we asked the voters to approve taking existing city revenues to support the new library. With that approval, we are going ahead with the building but will be strapped to adequately fund operations.

A large part of our library operating money, about 57 percent, comes from the Washington County Cooperative Library Service. Those dollars are spread out over all the city and community libraries in Washington County and have been relatively flat for many years. The county recognizes this reduction in purchasing power and has asked the voters if they wish to increase the funding with a four-year levy in order to keep up with the rising costs of operating our libraries.

For Tualatin, the successful approval of this county levy will provide the necessary operating money to fund the new library expansion. It will have a very significant impact on our library because of the new building.

The expanded library will allow Tualatin to have a modern, attractive facility and will create a space to provide a much-expanded level of services, including significant programs for teens and other youth. However, that will not happen nearly to its potential with current funding.

Included in this newspaper is a detailed explanation that I encourage you to read and consider regarding the levy. If you favor more support for our new library, please remember to vote for the library measure 34-126. Most importantly, whether or not you are in favor of increasing library funding by increasing your taxes, please, do vote. Your vote really does matter.