Our Opinion

Nothing is more fundamental to democracy - and to a community's livability - than a quality library system and an appreciation for the lessons of history.

Unfortunately, two of these basic institutions in our community - the Multnomah County Library system and the Oregon Historical Society museum - find themselves today without a firm financial foundation for the future. Multnomah County voters can rectify that situation by approving Measure 26-114 and Measure 26-118 on Nov. 2.

Measure 26-114, a county charter amendment, would open the door to establish, at some future point, a library district to provide stable funding for the county's well-loved library system. The library now relies on a temporary levy that must be renewed every five years for most of its funding.

Converting that levy to a permanent district is not without ramifications. Due to Oregon's tax limitation laws, a new taxing district would affect funding for other agencies - most notably the city of Portland. But libraries are too important not to be considered a basic service worthy of permanent funding. Plus, under this measure, no one is asking for money yet. The measure simply allows the discussion to occur during a future election cycle.

The history proposal - Measure 26-118 - would provide a small amount of funding to keep open the Oregon Historical Society's downtown museum and to support history museums in East Multnomah County. The rate (about $15 per year on a $300,000 home) is low and the cause - preserving history and sharing history with the public - is valuable.

Multnomah County voters should approve both Measures 26-114 and 26-118 in the Nov. 2 election.

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