Parks board to offer voters one-year library levy

By Meg Olson

The Point Roberts Park and Recreation District will be bumping up against the limit of its taxing authority when they ask voters to approve a one-time levy to top up library construction funds.

At the June 13 meeting of park district commissioners, Stephen Falk reported that a revised estimate from architect David King to transform the old Julius fire station into a new library came in at $870,000. If a number of alternates were included in the project, the budget would run closer to $1 million.

“That would be $330,000 more than the friends of the library raised,” Falk said. The Friends of the Point Roberts Library set a fundraising goal of $540,000 in 2011 based on the projected cost of the project at that time. To date they have raised $543,000.

Commissioners agreed in April to ask voters to approve a one-time levy not to exceed a certain amount. At that time the projected cost of the project was $689,000. The district has until August 2 to submit the language of the levy request to the county for inclusion on the November ballot.

Falk said the current estimate included some items that might not be needed, such as a new septic system, but did not include other items, such as additional parking and a wetlands assessment, which the county might require. Costs could also be kept down by eliminating optional features. “We need to go back to him and make sure these totals are right,” he said.

While the cost of the project is a moving target, the amount the district can ask voters for is not. Mark Bauthues with the county treasurer’s office explained that the district has a statutory limit on its taxing authority of 60 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.

With the assessed valuation for the Point in 2015 sitting just over $586 million, that translates to approximately $351,000 in total the district can collect through its regular levy. Additional amounts could be raised through funding sources such as a general obligation bond.

“The amount that could be levied for 2017 will depend on what the final taxable regular levy district value is for 2016, which will not be available from the assessor until later this year,” Bauthues said.

The district’s regular operating levy currently collects approximately $50,000 per year. If voters approve an additional $300,000 to be paid off in a single year, it would bump that amount up to approximately $132 in 2017, but then the tax rate would drop back down to the previous level in the following year.

Voters are currently paying off a $250,000 general obligation bond approved in 2013 for capital improvements to the community center. In 2016, that translated to a tax burden of approximately $28 per year for the owners of a $200,000 home.

Commissioners will take action at the regular parks board on July 11 meeting on the resolution to put the levy request before the voters in November.

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