Now it’s up to voters whether Spokane Valley gets a new library branch at Balfour Park.
As expected, the Spokane Valley City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday night to sell 2.82 acres of land at Sprague Avenue and Herald Road to the Spokane County Library District for about $840,000. No one supported or opposed the deal during a public hearing held just before the council vote.
The next step is a pair of ballot measures set for a special election in April seeking voter approval for a property tax increase to pay for $22 million in 20-year bonds that would be sold to cover the cost. About $15 million is earmarked for the new 30,000-square-foot Spokane Valley branch, while $5 million would be used to build a new 10,000-square-foot branch at Conklin Road to serve Greenacres and $2 million would pay for a 6,000-square-foot expansion of the Argonne branch in Millwood.
Property owners in the Spokane Valley area would see their taxes increase about $14 per $100,000 of assessed value per year, according to the library district.
A combined library and expanded Balfour Park complex is seen by many as a way to help invigorate the heart of Spokane Valley, though the city has yet to determine how it would pay for expanding the park as part of the joint complex.
Voters will see two issues on the ballot. One asks whether a Spokane Valley Library Capital Facilities Area should be created, which would limit the proposed tax increase to properties nearest the planned new branches, and the second asks whether taxes should be increased to pay for the proposed bond. Ballots will be sent only to voters within the proposed capital facilities area, and the bond measure requires a supermajority of at least 60 percent for passage.
The new Spokane Valley branch would be open by summer 2016, while the new Conklin branch and the Argonne expansion would be completed in 2017.
The city of Spokane Valley purchased 8 acres at Sprague and Herald for $2.5 million in 2012, and agreed to sell the 2.82 acres needed for the new library branch and use the remainder to expand Balfour Park. The previous landowner, businessman Jack Pring, didn’t want to sell just part of the land, so the city bought the entire tract after reaching agreement with the library district for the portion needed for the new branch.
If the library district is unable to get the project funded within five years, the acreage would be returned to the city.