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MailTribune.com
  • Library district tax might be less than full amount

  • Several of us who live in Jackson County would prefer to have a library district that is separate from the county general fund. However, a few practical questions have surfaced. For instance, how much total funding is anticipated to be gathered by the "up to 60 cents per $1,000" tax? Who will oversee or audit the use of these...
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  • Several of us who live in Jackson County would prefer to have a library district that is separate from the county general fund. However, a few practical questions have surfaced. For instance, how much total funding is anticipated to be gathered by the "up to 60 cents per $1,000" tax? Who will oversee or audit the use of these funds? Will the five-member public board be elected by the entire population of the county, and how much will this election cost? If the district formation passes, Jackson County will still own the buildings, so does this new tax pay for the upkeep, heating, etc., or how much rent will the district have to pay to Jackson County?
    — Diana B., Rogue River
    Well, Diana, this definitely violates our one-question rule, but because the election is right around the corner, we'll take it on. To get answers, we turned to Maureen Swift, who is a library district supporter, a proposed board member and generally knowledgeable about the measure.
    The total amount of funding the district will gather will be determined by the new board. Current library operations cost less than 40 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. The county estimates that the 60 cents per thousand would generate approximately $9 million, but the board is not obligated to levy the full amount.
    The elected five-member board will oversee the use of the funds. This board, similar to a fire district or school district board, will operate independent of the county Board of Commissioners.
    Regarding your third question, you probably have received your vote-by-mail ballot and may have noted the election of the board members is on the ballot as part of the primary election — so there is little additional cost. The board members are elected by vote of the entire county. The library board will not be seated if the district is not approved.
    As for your last question, there is an allocation for the maintenance of the buildings in the county's current library operating budget. It is expected that the county would continue to maintain the buildings and would charge the district for these costs.
    There you go, Diana. Hope that helps you make up your mind.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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