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County Library Bond On Edge Of Approval $7.6 Million Measure Appears Certain To Reach Validation Number

Spokane County Library District directors went to bed with crossed fingers Tuesday, hoping their $7.6 million bond measure finally wins voter approval.

The same measure, to build new branches and add computer technology, was defeated last September.

This time around, the 10-year bond was capturing 64 percent approval late Tuesday.

It also seemed certain of reaching its validation target of 20,688 votes.

Early returns had the measure failing. That changed after 10 p.m., with library board members finally looking relieved as they passed the 60 percent approval hurdle.

“I expected not to know until I get up Wednesday morning,” said County Library Director Mike Wirt. “I’m feeling better now.

“But we won’t probably know until we get everything in, including absentees mailed in on Tuesday.”

The library district serves more than 110,000 patrons in Spokane County outside the city limits.

If the bond passes, the county will build new libraries in Deer Park and Airway Heights to replace cramped, rented spaces. It will also improve branches in Fairfield and Cheney, buy about $2 million in new materials, and spend about $2.1 million for automated information equipment.

That includes about 200 computers and networks so the nine branches and county school districts can hook up to the Internet and other services.

It will cost the library district about $50,000 as its share of the February special election.

By law, however, it could not formally support the bond.

A citizens’ campaign group spent $8,000 to mail postcards and call residents to get out the vote.

By 10 a.m., Wirt and board members got discouraging news. County voter turnout was lower than 3 percent, when about 6 percent was expected.

“If we lost again Tuesday, our board has no plans to come back with it a third time,” Wirt said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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