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Funding lets libraries reopen on Mondays

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Multnomah County libraries will open on Mondays again starting in July, and will restore other operating hours cut a year earlier at 19 branches.

The reduced service hours came about when county commissioners put a simple renewal of the existing county library levy on the May 2012 ballot, to replace a levy expiring two months later, in July. By “flat-funding” the short-term tax levy, the county didn’t provide enough to cover inflation or increased operations costs for new branches. That led to the reduced operating hours, as of July 1, 2012.

The county promised the reduced hours would be reversed this July if voters approved a permanent funding source — a permanent library district — last November. When voters approved the district, that provided the county ongoing property tax funding, at a higher level than the series of short-term levies long used to supplement county general funds.

The library district thus freed up money in the county general fund. Conversely, due to state property tax limitations, library district approval also reduced property taxes going to the city of Portland and other local governments.