Letters to the Editor

The Editor:

The November All Point Bulletin is out now and I see that there are a bunch of “Letters to the Editor” about the new library.  I hope that we have not lost track of the actual existence of facts, but I do note that the two letters in opposition are sort of fact-challenged.  So, here’s an attempt to address that.

Stan Riffle writes with great concern about the Park and Recreation District taking on too much debt.  This suggests he doesn’t grasp the difference between a bond and a levy, which you would think he would given that he is a commissioner at the Fire District.  A bond is debt; a levy is income.  So, the one-time levy is not debt, not something that has to be repaid, not now, not next year, not ever.  The levy will increase property owners’ taxes by, on average, about $100 for one year.  If the levy passes, property owners will pay half of their share of the levy with their first tax installment in 2017 and the other half will be paid with the second installment in 2017.  And that’s it.  No more levy payments, no debt to be paid back, no change in the Park & Rec debt level.  And there will be a new library, significantly increasing the District’s asset values.

Linda Hughes takes the position that a library is not important enough for taxpayers to pay a million dollars.  The most recent cost estimate is not a million dollars, nor even $900,00 as Mr. Riffle asserts, but $840,000.  This includes a substantial contingency fund for the unknown unknowns. The known unknowns have apparently already been resolved during the permitting process: we will not need an entirely new septic system, nor additional parking, etc.

Perhaps Ms. Hughes also thinks that $840,000 is too much for the taxpayers to pay for a new library.  But, of course, nobody is asking the taxpayers to pay $840,000.  They are being asked as a group to pay up to $300,000, 35% of the cost.  The remainder of the cost is covered by donors who have already contributed $540,000+ to the Friends of the Point Roberts Library for this new library: some of them property owners, but also residents, their relatives, summer visitors, local businesses, Washington philanthropic foundations, and businesses from outside the Point.

The Friends asked for and accepted these donations to reconstruct the Julius Fire Hall into a new and appropriate for decades to come library, and that is what the money is to be used for.  It is not a gift to the Park and Rec District to spend as they want.  The Friends of the Library are saying to property owners in Point Roberts, “We will pay 65% of the costs of the new library.  Will you pay the other ⅓?  Will you look that big gift horse in the mouth?”

Those are the facts of this levy request.

Judy Ross, for The Friends of the Point Roberts Library

The Editor:

Supporters of the levy to raise funds for the new library building prepared the following statement which appears in the 2016 Voters’ Guide.  But in case some APB readers did not see it, I think it would be in the public interest to make it available here:

“Public libraries are more than books and computers. They are community hubs where people gather to meet, talk and explore. Libraries in small communities like Point Roberts are essential parts of a town’s public services.

“The Point Roberts Library has remained basically unchanged since the 1940’s. The Friends of the Point Roberts Library has raised $540,000 from foundations, businesses, and individuals, which covers about ⅔ of the renovation’s cost.  Property owners are being asked to provide only the final one-third of the new library costs.

“The new library will have 2,500 square feet (a significant increase from the current 900 square feet); more computer stations, areas for adults, teenagers and children to sit, read and use library materials; and a meeting room available to the community.

“The levy places a one-time property tax increase of $0.51 for each $1,000 of assessed value: a house assessed at $200,000 will have a one-time assessment of up to $102.  If the levy passes, the Park and Recreation District will put the project out to bid.  Please support our library and our entire Point Roberts community by voting Yes.”

Stephen Falk
Vice Chairperson
Point Roberts Park and Recreation District No. 1

 

The Editor:

Allow me to remind everyone that the money raised so far can only be used for renovations of the Julius firehouse. The FOPRL board would breach its fiduciary duty to all of its grantors and donors snd create tremendous liability for the board if they spent the money anywhere else.
 
It’s an untenable suggestion to use the funds raised for any other projects except the project for which the funds were provided, renovating Julius Fire Hall.
This fact is critical as alternate sites are suggested, be it Baker Field, Brewster’s or any other location, since there would be in fact no money for the any new site and the community would have to start fund raising all over again, while at the same time, FOPRL would be stuck with the enormous task of trying to figure out what to do with the funds it raised without getting sued. 
FOPRL, with community support, worked hard and diligently as a group of dedicated volunteers to raise a half a  million dollars to benefit our community, an enormous accomplishment, and this one time ask of voters is a very small investment in a vibrant community asset that will benefit generations to come. 
I ask when you vote to remember this key and critical fact – the money raised so far are dedicated funds that can only be spent on one project and one project only, renovating Julius Firehall, like dedicated sales taxes, for example, that are earmarked for a specific purpose. Outrage would follow if our legislature ignored that earmark and spent the money elsewhere. Our community does not want to create this type of liability for FOPRL and the Point Roberts community-at-large. 
FOPRL has done a tremendous job of fundraising for a new library. Let’s honor and support the work that they have done, let’s honor the commitment made to all of its grantors and donors, and let’s as community come together to embrace this opportunity to take the final step in making this desperately needed new library a reality for everyone on the point. 
Holly Robinson

 

  1. As one of the approximately 70% of property owners in Point Roberts that do not have voting rights, I urge those that DO to please support the levy for the new library. Point Roberts is a beautiful, unique community and a new, improved and larger space can only benefit everyone. The friends of the Library have done a wonderful job of fundraising and it would be a real shame for them to not receive the support to finally make this project a reality. A one time payment of approximately $100 (that’s $130 of my dollars!) is good value in my opinion. If those of us that don’t reside at the Point can support this iniative, surely those of you who do and have voting privileges can too! Please do not let the inefficiencies of the Parks Board (don’t get me started on THAT subject) kill all the work that has gone into the new library project!

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  2. I join Kelly Pope and other writers in urging people to vote in favor of this levy. While I do not have the privilege of voting, I have donated goods and money towards the remodel of the Julius Fire Hall. Like many others here and across our border, I use the current library but look forward to using a larger facility. I do not see inefficiencies of the Parks Board, and trust them to administer this needed remodel. Tomorrow is election day, and I urge last-minute voters to vote for this levy.

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  3. As a voter in Point Roberts, I voted for the levy. I donated to the FOPRL several times and tried to participate in all the fundraisers. A library is a beacon, a public declaration that knowledge, books, and intellectual inquiry are valued in a community. FOPRL tapped into that and was able to raise the $640,000+. Now we need a bit more. If voters do not want the levy, then what are the proposed methods for raising the last bit of funds. P&R Board knows and should make sure that residents know that they know the funds cannot be used for any other purpose. As a donor to FOPRL for a new library, I would be inclined to support a lawsuit should any group, including recalcitrant P&R board members, attempt to hijack our library funds for any other purpose. Some of us value books, knowledge, learning.

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