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
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.”