Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Washington County voters will face an important question on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Voters will make a decision on whether to approve Washington County Measure 34-235, a five-year levy to help pay for library services all across the county.

The precise text of the ballot question reads as follows: “Shall Washington County support library services countywide by levying 22 cents per $1,000 assessed value for five years, beginning in 2016? This measure may cause property taxes to increase by more than 3 percent.”

We believe this levy is needed, and recommend that voters enthusiastically support it.

First of all, libraries, like our schools, are a vital educational resource for citizens. Communities with a strong library system tend to be communities that are thriving. Vibrant libraries are usually one contributing element in communities that are doing well economically and that boast a strong sense of civic pride.

A library is an essential pillar of learning for local students, and an active, well-funded library helps guide students along the path to education. That factor alone provides a boost for our society on many levels.

Second, this is not a new levy, but rather a replacement levy. The existing five-year library levy will expire in June 2016, and Measure 34-235 is designed to bridge the looming gap. Indeed, the levy that will expire next summer currently provides one-third of the total funding the Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) network operates on. Without that funding source, it’s unclear how our library network would be able to continue its stellar level of service to county residents.

Approval of the ballot measure to support the WCCLS would take 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years, and that does represent an increase of 5 cents per $1,000 over the current levy rate. However, it’s important to note that the added 5 cents would be the first library levy rate increase in a decade, and we contend that is a small price to pay for all the services being offered.

Consider what the levy means for the entire region. The WCCLS includes branch libraries throughout Washington County: In Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Banks, Cornelius and North Plains, as well as in Beaverton, Cedar Mill, Garden Home, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin and West Slope. Further, approval of this measure would bring a new Aloha Library into the WCCLS, thereby providing a boost for residents in the Aloha area and strengthening the overall network. Meanwhile, passage of the levy would pave the way for expansion of libraries in Cornelius and Hillsboro.

Specifically, funds from the levy are in line to go to support several key aspects of the library district’s operations:

n Passage would maintain current hours of service at all branches and increase hours at several libraries.

n It would allow purchase of books and e-books and a variety of other materials district-wide.

n It would support reading programs for children, including summer reading activities and key literacy training — in English as well as Spanish — for kids before they enroll in public schools.

n Approval would allow the county’s libraries to maintain job-seeking resources and information.

n It would serve to solidify the links among the WCCLS member libraries by maintaining the umbrella organization’s website and the extensive, shared library catalog that patrons at all branch libraries can tap into.

On Nov. 3, Washington County voters have the opportunity to support an efficient and highly beneficial service that serves a vast cross-section of our county’s growing population.

This replacement levy benefits citizens of the county as a whole, and it deserves to win support from the county’s residents. We wholeheartedly urge residents to cast a “Yes” vote to approve Washington County Measure 34-235 on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

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