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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Voters signal support of Spokane County library levy

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 6, 2019, 11:27 p.m.

Jen Fogelsong, left, and Heidi Pickens, of the Spokane County Library District, load unselected books into a van after displaying them at Courtland Place retirement center, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Spokane Valley. The Spokane County Library District’s levy was passing as of Tuesday night. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Jen Fogelsong, left, and Heidi Pickens, of the Spokane County Library District, load unselected books into a van after displaying them at Courtland Place retirement center, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Spokane Valley. The Spokane County Library District’s levy was passing as of Tuesday night. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

In the first night’s count, many Spokane County voterscast their ballots for an increase in property taxes for county libraries, with about 53.3% voters saying yes on Spokane County Library District Proposition 1.

As of Tuesday night, about 78,638 ballots were counted. There were an estimated 18,000 remaining to be counted. The library needs a simple majority for the levy to pass.

The library’s last levy in 2010 was approved by 55% of voters.

Spokane County Library spokeswoman Jane Baker said library leaders are “cautiously optimistic,” about Tuesday night’s numbers.

“We are very encouraged by the results,” Baker said.

She said she appreciated all those who turned out to vote in the primary and leaders were looking forward to when they could ceritfy the results.

She said if the levy doesn’t pass, they wouldn’t have time to put it on the ballot again by November, but perhaps would at a later date.

About 93% of the library’s budget is funded by property taxes. Without an increase in funding from the levy, the Spokane County Library District could see cuts in services and staff and, in the next few years, some libraries could close.

Library leaders said the costs of materials, wages and expenses have increased faster than revenue and that they needed a levy to continue offering the same level of service, modernize security and replace an outdated heating and air-conditioning system.

Baker said last month that the library received about 100 calls from confused and concerned patrons over a Drag Queen Story Hour that happened at the city’s library system. Baker said the county library doesn’t plan to host that type of story hour, but expressed concern that the confusion over the two library systems could affect the election.

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