In the Oct. 25 edition, the Chieftain reported on a City of Enterprise Council meeting about the proposed library district. This letter addresses the reference to the proposed use of the city’s library facilities by the library district.
One of the main goals of library foundation in recent months has been to determine what the lowest possible tax rate would be in order to provide library services throughout Wallowa County. The recommended tax rate of 65 cents per thousand dollars of evaluation is possible only if the cities and the county agree to allow the district to use their library buildings without charge.
The library district would pay for annual operations: personnel, library materials and other operational expenses, including janitorial and telecommunications.
This type of shared responsibility for funding libraries is not unusual. Tillamook County in Oregon and Timberland Library District in Washington have such arrangements. The specifics of these arrangements are stated in intergovernmental agreements between the library district and the local governments that own their facilities.
The agreements could be updated annually as the district board and the cities and county gain experience with district revenues, operations and expenditures.
An intergovernmental agreement cannot be made before the district exists. However, knowledge and understanding can be gained as a pathway to laying out an arrangement that jurisdictions could support and that the district budget and tax rate would also support.
This month, the foundation will be organizing a facilities committee, inviting representatives from the city councils of Enterprise, Joseph and Wallowa and the Wallowa County Commission to sort out the facilities issues.
The Foundation appreciates that all of these partners are taking a leap of faith in creating the district, all have a vested interest in its success, and all stand to be able to provide efficient, effective and sustainable library services to our communities.
Crawford is a member of the Library Foundation Board and chair of the foundation’s facilities committee.