I would like to thank The Spokesman-Review for supporting libraries and our performing arts in many ways.
Regarding stable library funding, one idea is creating a dedicated fund through a voter-approved utility tax increase on the lower-taxed telephone, natural gas and electricity utilities to generate a funding level to support our libraries and perhaps also our nonprofit performing arts organizations, such as the Spokane Symphony.
Passage only takes a simple majority vote. The fund would then be a dedicated fund, like the arrangement we have for parks, and could be administered by the Library Board with representation from the performing arts community. Symphony funding could be offered on a match basis to encourage continued private support.
I recognize that all utility taxes by their nature can be highly regressive, so I would also recommend a provision that customers qualifying as lower income not have the tax included. There is also a slight technical detail because utility taxes are not direct taxes on the customer but on the utility. This could be addressed by adding a provision that the utility tax does not apply to utility revenues from low-income customers.