What the 2012 Library Levy Means for the Montlake Branch

Image: seattlepi.com

The Seattle City Council recently voted to send a 7-year, $123 million library levy to the August 7th ballot. The levy would restore funding to library services that have been cut in recent years. What specifically does this mean for the Montlake Branch? The benefits are spelled out by the SPL here:

  • Open 1-5 p.m. Sunday
  • Restore basic on-site reference staff
  • Add books, electronic books, movies and music and reduce wait times, especially for popular titles
  • Expand children’s collection of books systemwide to support early literacy and early learning
  • Eliminate one-week systemwide closure
  • Upgrade technology services, including computers, software, printers, copiers, online services and infrastructure
  • Increase maintenance, including specialized cleaning and furniture care, periodic restroom updates, major maintenance

The levy would add about $15 of property tax for every $100,000 of value, or cost the median homeowner in Seattle $52 a year. The back story, however, is the city’s expected budget cuts coming next year that might further diminish the library general fund. This levy would in part restore past cuts and but also hedge against future cuts. If it passes, and city officials look cynically toward the levy supplement, the near future may still end up looking more like the status quo of Friday / Sunday closures and a one-week summer furlough. If it doesn’t pass, library services could be cut even closer to the bone. It’s important to let City Hall know that libraries cannot sustain further general fund cuts.

2 thoughts on “What the 2012 Library Levy Means for the Montlake Branch

  1. What do you mean “if the city looks cynically towards the levy supplement”? I’d interpret that to mean that they would just take the money from a levy and put it into the general fund. Is that legal? If they did, I’d say its time to raise a big fuss.

  2. Levy funds and the city’s general fund are two totally separate things. If voters pass the levy, the city should see that as a strong affirmation of library services and then NOT cut the library’s general funds next year. If they do that, then yes, it’s time to raise a fuss.

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