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Failed Valley library bond has ripple effects

Thu., March 27, 2008

A failed March 11 bond measure to build and expand libraries in the Greater Spokane Valley area would have benefited residents of northern Spokane County as well.

The $33.4 million proposal would have made it easier for the Spokane County Library District to purchase land for a new library near the Wandermere Mall.

District Director Michael Wirt said “seed money” used to purchase land for a new branch in Spokane Valley could have been recycled for land the district hopes to acquire at the southeast corner of Hastings Road and Perry Street.

The proposed bond measure would have reimbursed the district for the $452,000 it spent on a two-acre site on Conklin Road in Spokane Valley, where a 15,000-square-foot library is planned.

In addition to the new Conklin Road library near Sprague Avenue, the bond measure would have replaced the Spokane Valley Library and would have expanded the Argonne Library near Millwood.

Property owners in a special taxing district, called the Greater Spokane Valley Library Capital Facility Area, would have paid for the improvements. The area consists of Spokane Valley, Millwood and surrounding unincorporated areas.

The same sort of taxing area was used to pay for the Moran Prairie Library and reimburse the parent Spokane County Library District for the money it spent on the Moran Prairie site. That money, in turn, was used to buy the Conklin Road site.

Now, Wirt said, the district needs money for the approximately four-acre site near the Wandermere Mall. The district has an option to buy the land for $747,489. Wirt said the district paid nothing for the option, but it expires Aug. 30.

The new library probably wouldn’t be built for at least 10 years, but “the board is really feeling the need to be able to purchase the site because it’s going to be gone in the future,” Wirt said.

He said the new library would be about twice as large as the North Spokane Library at 44 E. Hawthorne Road, which would remain open.

The North Spokane Library is comparable in size to the library planned on Conklin Road.

Library trustees decided last week not to place the resoundingly defeated Greater Spokane Valley bond measure back on the ballot this year. The bond issue needed 60 percent support to pass, but instead had 54.5 percent opposition.

Some form of the Greater Spokane Valley proposal may be presented again next year, but trustees are wary because they also plan to ask voters throughout the library district for a tax levy lid lift.

The district is supported by a tax of up to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, but tax-limiting initiatives have pushed the rate down to 45.3 cents this year.

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