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