By Meg Olson
Point Roberts Park and Recreation District commissioners have approved a ballot measure asking voters for up to $300,000 to make up a projected budget shortfall for the new library project, and they’ve selected community members to argue for and against its approval.
At their July 11 meeting commissioners voted 4–1, with chair Linda Hughes opposed, to submit the proposition to voters at the November 8 general election. They have until August 2 to submit the resolution authorizing the ballot measure to the county, and with it the names of those who will form pro and con committees and prepare a statement for this fall’s voters pamphlet. Those statements are due August 8 and the committees have until August 11 to prepare rebuttals to opposing statements.
At a July 25 special meeting at the community center commissioners appointed Elizabeth Lantz to the con committee and discussed some other alternative members for the committee, which must have a minimum of one and a maximum of three members. The Friends of the Point Roberts Library board of directors put forward president Judy Ross, Margot Griffiths and Holly Robinson as the pro committee, which the parks commissioners approved.
Following a five-year fundraising campaign FOPRL has raised $543,000, and they have about $500,000 left in the bank after design and permitting costs, said commissioner Stephen Falk. A newly revised estimate from architect David King puts the project cost at $798,000, Falk said, “but we may try and do some things as community projects,” which would trim costs.
The one-time levy not to exceed $300,000 would be specifically targeted at transforming Julius Fire Station into the new library, but if funds are left over or if the project does not go ahead, that money will stay with the parks district to be used for capital projects at the discretion of commissioners.
The district’s regular operating levy currently collects approximately $50,000 per year. Voters are also 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.
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 the following year.