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Library levy to increase hours

Property owners in Pierce County, will decide in the Tuesday Primary Election, the fate of a “levy reauthorization” request made by trustees of the Pierce County Library System.

Passage of Tuesday's library proposal would pay immediate dividends close to home, as the Bonney Lake and Buckley library would be open an additional 10 hours per week.

Currently, the Bonney Lake and Buckley branch - like 10 others in the 17-library system - are not open Mondays. If Tuesday's ballot measure gets the OK, the Bonney Lake Library would be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Buckley's doors would be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Additionally, Bonney Lake would open at 10 a.m., an hour earlier on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The Buckley library would stay open a half-hour later (until 6 p.m.) on Thursday and Friday. Hours would stay the same Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Buckley library would continue to be closed Sundays, while Bonney Lake would open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Throughout the system, passage would mean additional services for children and teenagers, according to Mary Getchell, information officer for the district. Additionally, library branches would receive additional computer stations with Internet access, she said.

Currently, taxpayers pay 40 cents for every $1,000 in assessed property for library services. Tuesday, voters will face a simple decision: pay more and get more in the way of services, or let the rate slip and face potential cuts in services.

By state law, library districts may collect up to 50 cents for every $1,000 in assessed property. Collection rates were near that in 2002, when the district was assessing 48 cents per $1,000. The rate has continued to drop to the present 40 cents and would continue to decline; if Tuesday's request is denied, Getchell said, the district will collect 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2007.

That, she said, would force library trustees to slice $500,000 from next year's budget.

Here's how the math works for the owner of property valued at $300,000.

€ this year, at the 40 cent rate, the total assessment for libraries is $120.

€ next year, if the levy lid is approved, the rate would jump to $144.

€ next year, if Tuesday's measure is defeated, the rate would decrease to $114.

Those numbers are skewed by the fact that property assessments will be climbing. Getchell said the average home in the library's service area is valued at $225 this year; next year, the average is expected to be $244.

Tuesday's ballot measure requires a simple majority for passage.

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