September 21, 1995 in City

Library Bond Will Be Back Next Spring

By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane County Library District directors expect to take a failed $7.6 million bond proposal back to voters next spring.

Explaining the measure better and getting higher voter turnout will be the key in the district’s second try, said County Library Director Mike Wirt.

Voters on Tuesday rejected the bond measure.

Library board members had presented the bond as the best way to add new computers, expand and modernize current libraries and build a new branch in Deer Park.

The vote totals were 57 percent yes, 43 percent no. State law requires 60 percent approval, plus 40 percent voter turnout compared to the previous general election.

Only 21,240 county voters cast ballots on the library bonds - about 9,000 less than needed to validate, said Wirt.

Wirt said board members will meet today to take the official step of choosing the next election date.

Faced with two dates to choose from - November or March - Wirt thinks the board will opt for the second.

“It seems best to wait until spring because the charter issue (on a proposed city-county consolidation) will be the major complication on the November ballot,” he said.

He’s convinced the same measure would get more yes votes if more voters had been better educated about it.

Some voters may have compared the library measure with a $7.6 million school bond proposal, Wirt said.

School bond measures tend to hike property taxes more than a library bond. That’s because school bonds are paid only by taxpayers in a given school district, while the library district’s bonds are paid by homeowners throughout the entire county.

The next election’s major challenge will be getting more residents to vote, Wirt acknowledged.

“We’re realistic about it; it’s going to take more work,” he said.

The only difference in the measure in the spring will be extending computer access to county libraries to students in Moran Prairie and Mullan Road elementary schools.

The measure, if passed, would make that access available via computer to students in all county middle and high schools.

Adding the two elementary schools would help students who have lost access to Spokane City Library materials. County users of the city system now must pay an annual fee.

, DataTimes

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