Seattle voters will decide whether to renew a seven-year library levy in the Aug. 6 primary election. The $219 million property tax measure is $100 million more than the one approved in 2012.
A lot of the money from the levy, if approved, would go toward general maintenance and seismic upgrades. Funds also would increase physical and digital collections, and keep libraries open longer, including an extra hour on Sundays.
Andra Addison, communications director for Seattle Public Library, says the latter would fill a demonstrated need. A survey of library patrons showed that Seattleites would use the library more if hours were extended. “That was the number one thing,” Addison said.
There's $8 million in the levy to cover the cost of eliminating overdue fines, something proponents say will make the system more equitable since low-income residents are the most likely to have unpaid late fees and lose borrowing privileges. Other libraries in the region that have tried it, including Sno-Isle Libraries, have not seen an increase in lost materials.
Opponents of the levy say they support the library but, as an essential service, its funding should come from the regular city budget, not from a property tax levy. The levy will cost the median homeowner about $7 a month.