City wants to annex into Sno-Isle LibrariesMay ballot to include library annexation vote BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR After years of using property tax money to pay for the Lake Stevens Library the City and Sno-Isle Libraries will soon be asking citizens to become annexed into the Sno-Isle Library system.
Currently, Lake Stevens is contracted with Sno-Isle Libraries to provide staffing, materials and library services to its citizens; however, the city owns the building the library is housed in. The cost of this contract fee for 2008 will be $515,000, which comes directly from the city budget.
“By annexing, it gets the city out of the business of library services and secures the library funds into the future,” Mary Kelly, Director or Community Relations and Marketing for Sno-Isle Libraries explains.
By annexing into the Sno-Isle Libraries, city residents would be taxed directly for library services along with 15 other cities in the county including Granite Falls and Marysville and would show up on property tax forms as a separate line item entitled Sno-Isle Library. Lake Stevens is one of only four cities in the Snohomish and Island counties who is not annexed.
“Right now, citizens are paying for their library use through their property tax at a lower rate than other cities and unincorporated areas,” City Administrator Jan Berg said.
The levy rate for this tax for 2008 is 31.3 cents per $1,000 assessed value, which means that a home valued at $300,000 would ay $94 per year for the Sno-Isle Library tax.
Those not living within city limits are currently paying this tax and those recently annexed into the city were previously paying it through their annual tax payments.
If the May levy passes, the City will no longer pay the contract fees, however, library services will be paid by the library levy and monies being used to pay the library contract can be used for other city services including police, sidewalk construction and park maintenance and acquisition.
“It currently competes with other essential city services,” Berg said.
Annexing into the Sno-Isle system is the first step in getting a new library built within the City but city leaders want to make sure that the costs of operating a new library are in place before building a new library in Lake Stevens. Annexing will provide stable funds to keep the library and its services a constant and not depend on the city’s budget to pay for those services.
Of course, property taxes will increase because of the new levy, however, city residents are currently paying less than those in the unincorporated areas of Lake Stevens between both the library tax and their property taxes. The increase will incur only through the library tax.
“It evens the cost where the entire service area pays the same amount for library services,” Berg said.
The City is hosting an open house on Monday, April 7 to find out where citizens would like to see the funds redirected and to answer any questions. The Open House will take place from 5:50 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Stevens School District Administration Building.
If the levy doesn’t pass, the City may have to reduce some services and delay capital improvements projects.