Voters to decide future of Spokane's libraries

SPOKANE, Wash. - Ballots will be arriving in your mailboxes next week, and one of the major issues you'll vote on is whether to increase your property tax to help fund the city's libraries.

Someone with a home value of $100,000 and up would pay an extra $7 a year; a homeowner whose residence is valued at $200,000 and up would pay an extra $14 a year.

The libraries feel this is reasonable, but the proposal isn't without its critics.

"I'm concerned about the future, and as well I am somewhat critical of the library," city councilman Mike Fagan said.

Spokane library levy

Fagan is perhaps the most outspoken critic of the library's levy.

"There's only so much money that can come out of any individual community," he said.

Fagan thinks the libraries shouldn't be asking for money and instead learn to be more efficient.

"Did people know here, in the City of Spokane, you can actually go to the library for beer and pizza? Movie night? Genealogy services? Reproduction services? You know copying services and things like that? And you know, hey if this is what the people want then this is the reason why I say let the voters decide," Fagan said.

Fagan said taxpayer money should go to more pressing issues like public safety; Pat Partovi, the city's library director, however, thinks what they're asking of homeowners is reasonable.

"If a citizen were to check out one book a year from the library instead of purchasing it, they would have made up that $14 and then some possibly," Partovi said.

Partovi is facing a $500,000 deficit for 2014. If the levy passes, it'll raise $1 Million a year for the next four years, allowing branches to extend their hours.  If the levy doesn't pass, small branches like Hillyard and Indian Trail would be on the chopping block.

"What the board is going to have to look at is what the deficit is, what the shortfall is and I don't think they have a lot of choice other than to look at closing one or more branches, probably two," Partovi said.

The ballots will go out next week and are due back by Feb. 12.