Spokane residents gave resounding support for the renewal of a property tax that will allow officials to maintain, and slightly expand, services.
The levy of 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value was renewed with 70.8 percent of the vote, according to totals released Tuesday evening. More votes will be counted later this week, but the strong margin of victory assures it will pass.
“We really feel this is a validation of the progress we have been able to make toward modernizing library services,” said Spokane Public Library Executive Director Andrew Chanse after the vote count was released.
The tax, first approved by voters in 2013, generates about 11 percent of the library’s funding, with the rest coming out of funds set aside each year in the city budget.
The extra funding broke a long cycle of gloom and doom in the library’s budget with cut hours and threatened branch closures.
“It has given us enough room to modernize our technology, modernize our offerings out in the community and be more responsive,” Chanse said.
The tax also allowed officials to expand hours. The Indian Trail, East Side and Hillyard branches are open nearly twice as much since the tax first was approved, and the system began offering Sunday hours in 2015.
Chanse said the renewal will allow the library to open a second branch on Sunday. Currently, only the Shadle branch has Sunday hours.
The levy passed by a bigger margin this year; 66 percent of voters approved it in 2013.
City Council President Ben Stuckart pushed for the putting the tax before voters in 2013 and supported it again this year.
“Our library and our city has been using our taxpayer dollars wisely and I think this vote reflects that,” he said.
Tuesday’s vote puts the tax in place until 2024.
Jonathan Brunt contributed to this report.
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