Rendition of new library

Rendition of new library
The New Point Roberts Library Out of the Old Julius Firehall

Friday, March 31, 2017

It Looks Like We are Done Fundraising for the New Library

BIG NEWS! The new Memo of Understanding was signed March 30, 2017 by the Friends, Whatcom County Library Services, and the P.R. Park and Recreation District. WCLS has offered a contribution of up to $160,000 to complete the building costs (adding to the final $140,000 raised in the last few months by the Friends), and Park and Rec will supervise the construction process. Permitting is almost completed and the construction money is in the bank (and in a few remaining pledges that will arrive in April). Next, the project goes out to bid. Thanks again and always to everyone, every agency, every business, every foundation, every "yes" voter, and, well, just everyone who helped us get to this point. You make this a community that cares about books, reading, libraries, for now and for the foreseeable future! I'm smiling; I hope you are, too. --Judy Ross, for the Friends of the Point Roberts Library, all of them.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reporting In on Levy Donations

In the midst of a week of too much snow in too many places, we've received about a dozen checks for our 'levy donation' campaign (goes through march). Because we are asking for relatively small donations ($50/$100,000 assessed property value), we're going to need a lot of them, and the first $34,000 dollars will be matched. 

We did receive from a very generous and civic-minded Point Roberts couple the second installment of their earlier $25,000 pledge, which is looking very good in the bank account. 

Remember to drop your 'levy donation' off either at the library or the postoffice (PO Box 970, p.r., 98281). Hope you're back to normal February! --Judy Ross

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Now's the Time

The February All Point Bulletin has a FOPRL New Library column with a longer version of fundraising progress (p. 13).  So, if this isn't clear enough, I send you there.

We're aiming to raise the $300,000 that the levy would have produced, and we're asking that all the library supporters here on the Point donate the amount they would have paid in additional property taxes IF the levy had passed with 60% of the vote.  (As you probably remember, it had 55% yes votes, but required 60%).  AND, we have initially a $34,000 matching grant offered by the Fundraising Committee to get that off to a good start.

We need to gather this money quickly so that we can still get the building contract out to bid in the spring.  Immediately after the election's unhappy results for the library, we received commitments of over $100,000. from a small number of generous residents.  In the two months since, that total grew to almost half of what we need (counting all the cash and pledge commitments in hand.)   We are talking with WCLS about support from them with respect to at least some of that second half, but first we need the broader community to step up.  If you now donate to FOPRL what you would have paid in additional property taxes if the levy had passed, you would be donating $100 for every $200,000 of your property assessment value.  That is: $50, for $100,000 assessed value, $100 for $200,000, $150 for $300,000, $500 for $1,000,000, etc.  Your donation is tax deductible in the U.S.

If you can donate more than that (since at this time of year, we will be challenged to reach all the full- and part-residents), please do so.  Leave your donation at the library, or mail it to FOPRL, P.O. Box 970, Point Roberts, WA 98281.  We need this new library for the community and for the future.  These are difficult times for many right now, but joining with your friends and neighbors in getting these funds raised and this library built is a commitment to a wonderful outcome for the community, not least a sparkling new library on Gulf Road. There, we can all participate in the educational and cultural garden that defines a library, a library that this community will have joined together to build.

Please mention this to your friends, neighbors, and members of groups you belong to whom we may not have otherwise reached.  This has been a long project, but we can get it done now.  Thanks for all the support you have provided over the past 5 years, and for your help in this next short run.

--Judy Ross, for the Friends of the Point Roberts Library

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Were Working on this Funding Problem. Want to Help?

Sorry to be so slow in getting information out, but i'm waiting for other players to decide how they can help with the library. I can tell you that a half dozen or so very generous supporters have contributed, in total, more than $100,000 to give us a terrific start toward the $300,000 we're going to need to make up for the failed levy. And next week, I'll be going to WCLS to get their advice and, if possible, help. Jack Louws (Whatcom Co. Executive) wrote a very supportive section of his Year End Report in the January All Point Bulletin, pointing out how much Point Roberts Library supporters and true friends had done toward getting this new library funded. It was nice to have his recognition. We're all working on this and when I have more specific news, I'll be back to you. In the meantime, if you're inclined to make a donation, we will happily add it to that $100,000+ I mentioned above.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Next Act

Almost a month since election day and the truly unhappy news that the new library levy put forth by the Park and Recreation District had failed to reach the 60% of votes required by Washington law. Alas, I believe it was the only levy that failed in Whatcom County.  On the other hand, it did NOT fail to achieve a majority+ of votes: over 55% of voters did vote to approve the levy which would have required an average property owner payment of $100 for one year in order to build a new library for Point Roberts.  A library that would have served our community well for decades.

But, what's done is done.  There are two ways forward: first, those of us at FOPRL could just say, "well, the voters have spoken and that's that."  But I don't think that's going to happen because although the voters have voted, the majority of the voters also spoke; and the majority of people in Point Roberts spoke even earlier when FOPRL received many hundreds of individually-identified donations.  FOPRL feels a deep commitment both to those who already donated over a half-million dollars to build a new library at the site of the Julius Firehall, to those who supported the levy, and to our own view of the community's real need for a new, centrally-located, larger, and appropriately outfitted library that will serve us and those who come after us well into the 21st Century.

At the moment, we are working on next steps forward.  We have met with the Park and Recreation Commission and with Whatcom County Library System, our two partners in this project, to review the options for a plan to move this project forward as originally intended.  It has a bunch of moving parts, but we hope to be able to get it finalized by January (given the demands of the holiday season).  We will have to do some further fundraising, of course, but we have already received some encouraging offers of significant help.  And we would be happy to receive more offers, of course!  Just call me.

So, that's it for the moment, but stay tuned!  The Board of the Friends of the Point Roberts Library, and especially Ed and I personally, extend our great thanks for all you have done for this project over the last 5 years.  We look forward to completing this new library which will mean so much to us all when it is finished, and mean even more perhaps because it has been a challenge that we will have overcome together.  A library is a community treasure and we believe we will have that renewed treasure, soon.

--Judy Ross
President, Friends of the Point Roberts Library

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Levy Results

Unfortunately, it looks as if the new library levy has not passed.  The report of votes last night at 5 p.m., with 503 votes counted, had 54% voting yes, and 46% voting no.  A 60% yes vote is required for a levy to pass.  It is unlikely that the final votes yet to be counted would change those figures.

Three of the members of the Board of Directors are away from the Point right now, but when they return we will discuss where we go next.  My guess is that we will also have a public meeting to discuss possibilities.  Sorry; sorry for many things this week, this year.  --Judy Ross

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Facts are Important

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 Rec 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