“Cordial” Meeting on Library Levy Follows Strained Exchange

Kitsap Regional Library’s library levy PAC announced Friday on its Facebook page that there had been a “cordial” meeting between library officials and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola. This after Coppola criticized the library board at a PO city council meeting Tuesday, and in media comment sections after, for allocating $750,000 to Port Orchard’s library, when multimillion dollar buildings are planned for Silverdale and Kingston.

Silverdale’s new library has been in the works for many years and is planned for the Silverdale Community Center. The current library is deemed too small for the population it serves. Kingston’s library is a room in its community center, which is in severe disrepair.

Port Orchard plans to build a new library in a planned Town Center Revitalization Project, which will include a parking garage, retail spaces and a public plaza.

Library spokesman Jeff Brody agreed that Port Orchard’s library, which is 8,000 SF and serves 21,000 patrons each month, is a high priority as well. Before Friday’s meeting, he said that more money will likely be available to Port Orchard and other branches after the two new buildings are paid off in six years.

The result of Friday’s meeting is the Library board will revisit its levy proposal with Coppola’s request in mind. Vote Yes Kitsap Libraries says, “To meet the city’s request may require the levy increase to be higher than the 12.5 cent increase originally proposed.”

10 thoughts on ““Cordial” Meeting on Library Levy Follows Strained Exchange

  1. So the Mayor is critical of the proposed KRL levy and after a meeting with the KRL board the result will be a higher levy? That is a way to influence the taxpayer during a recession. I can’t wait to see the results when this request comes before the voters. Maybe KRL can take some lessons from the Port of Bremerton on how to influence the taxpayer and voter.

    At this point I am not convinced that this levy is required to be as big as it is. The idea that refurbishing or building new should be funded from this levy just because the County can’t afford to do it is the wrong path to fiscal responsibility. I think it will be back to the drawing board to bring out a more reasonable levy than this expensive request or demand during a time of economic turmoil.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  2. “The 12.5 cent increase” is a confusing way to state what the library district board of trustees is considering.

    What is the number to which one must add 12.5 cents to get the intended tax rate that will go on the ballot? Is it this year’s library district tax rate of about 32 cents? That is apparently how it started out, when the library personnel thought assessed values for taxes due in 2011 would be roughly the same as values for this year.

    Now, they recognize that the tax base will probably be down by about 5% for taxes due in 2011; so they recognize the library tax rate without a lid lift would be a little more than 34 cents in 2011.

    So, do we add 12.5 cents to 34 cents to find the rate they think might be proposed on the ballot?

    Maybe, except that the original idea was to add $3.6 million to the library levy amount; and now they’re talking about $3.3 million.

    What got dropped from the list of things to do when the annual amount went down by $300,000 (a 10-year effect of about $3 million)?

    If I knew what amount they sought, I could do the arithmetic easily and find what rate needs to be on the ballot.

    But in this case, neither the amounts they state nor the 12.5 cents they mention make much sense. The rate on the ballot would need to be about 47 cents to get the $3.6 million they said they wanted to begin with.

    So, is there any chance that the library district personnel (and therefore the Sun’s reports) might begin including with the “12.5 cents” statement a statement that says what tax rate the ballot would have on it? The ballot for lid lifts says what the tax rate would be if approved by the voters. It doesn’t ask the voters to add “12.5 cents” to some unstated number.

  3. Bob – It appears library officials are weighing the relative merits of adding or subtracting items from their long-term operating and capital plans, and hence raising or lowering the projected levy rate per thousand from the original target of 12.5 cents.

    At the meeting I went to in March, board members talked about trying to keep the rate per $1,000 of assessed value around 12.5 cents, but with some months until they have to put the measure on the ballot, it wasn’t set in stone. One board member said she wished they could make do with a 10 cent increase from the current rate. One thing all agreed on is they wanted to stay away from the 18 cent increase they asked for in the earlier levy that failed.

    According to Jeff Brody, they are running the numbers again based on new information about added costs for the Silverdale Library, along with another drop in property values. Now they’ll also have to factor in what the effect of accommodating Port Orchard’s request would be and if, based on those figures, they can actually come up with more money for PO.

    The library board meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Little Boston Library. They’ll be discussing the levy (and Port Orchard’s annexation ordinance, which board members must formally accept, as I’m sure you know).

    The Port Orchard City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday. On the agenda, they must formally approve putting the annexation measure on the ballot. We’ll be keeping track of what happens at both meetings. Hopefully we’ll be able to give you some new numbers to work, but they likely will not be hard and fast.

  4. To Roger Gay:
    You certainly may reach the conclusion that the library’s proposed levy increase is too large. But don’t jump to any conclusion about the announcement from the library about Friday’s meeting. As we emphasized, we met with the mayor to try to determine what the city wanted, since all we knew from Tuesday night’s meeting was that the mayor was calling $750,000 an insult. So we needed to see what amount is not an insult.

    We heard that number from the mayor, and we pledged to the mayor that we would run the numbers to see what would be required to provide that amount toward a new Port Orchard library. It is true that to provide that amount will probably require a larger increase than what KRL had originally been discussing. Our statement did not say that we would increase our levy proposal — that is something that will ultimately be up to our Board of Trustees. What we said is that the meeting was cordial, information was exchanged rationally, and we promised to run numbers to see what it would look like if the mayor’s request is added to the levy.

    To Bob Meadows: As you know, our original examination of the levy looked at either a 10 cent rate increase or a 12.5 cent rate increase from our base rate for 2011. Our rate for 2010 is 32 cents. Under KRL’s original calculations, a 12.5 cent increase would generate $3.6 million per year, but that assumed the county’s assessed value would stay at 2010 levels.

    We are now being told by the assessor’s office that it looks like assessed value for 2011 will drop another 5 percent. That does two things. First of all, it increases our base rate in 2011 to about 34 cents, just to levy the same amount as in 2010. Secondly, because each cent generates less money with 5 percent lower assessed value, the same 12.5 cent increase brings in $3.3 million to $3.4 million rather than the original $3.6. That’s where the $3.3 million figure came from.

    So the proposed KRL levy increase would generate about $3.3 or $3.4 million per year if it passes in November, starting in 2011. After 2011, our annual increase will return to the legal limit of 1 percent plus the value of new construction. But the new base levy will continue to include that $3.3 million each year. When we present the plan, we talk about how that money would be allocated to operations and how it will be allocated to capital needs over the first 10 year period.

    An important thing to understand is that the money comes in evenly over time, so the projects have to be spaced out over time. Even if the levy collects enough money in the first 10 years to pay for three new libraries, that doesn’t mean KRL can start building all three in the first year. The projects have to be spread out to match the flow of the levy dollars.

    KRL feels there are three clear capital needs in the system. They are, in order:
    1) Replacing and enlarging the Kingston branch, which now is located in one room of the Kingston Community Center, a building that would cost more to repair than to replace. As a county taxpayer, you own that building, as you would if KRL were to build a replacement.
    2) Replace and enlarge the Silverdale branch. The building serves four times more people per square foot than the Port Orchard Library branch. There are fewer parking spaces at the Silverdale branch than at Port Orchard. KRL owns than branch and is responsible for maintaining, enlarging or replacing it.
    3) Replace and enlarge the Port Orchard branch. The building is the third smallest in the system measured on the basis of population served per square foot. It is a refurbished post office building that is not well suited to serve the needs of a library. The city of Port Orchard owns the building and is responsible for its maintenance, but KRL partners with the city and is willing to help the city pay for a new library if the city chooses to build or obtain a different facility. The city’s desire to provide a new library building is being driven by the fact that it wants to sell the current library location, which is a prime, downtown waterfront commercial property.

    It is because of this priority order that KRL originally identified only the Kingston and Silverdale projects to be completed in the first 10 years of the levy. But since the levy funds continue to come in each year, there will be money to help Port Orchard build a library. But a chunk of money for that purpose would not be available until the costs of the first two are paid for.

    Thanks for the opportunity to explain this in more detail.

    Jeff Brody
    KRL Director of Community Relations

  5. I appreciate the Mayor speaking his mind on the issues and working towards solutions. Isn’t that the role of the Mayor?

    Thanks to both Mayor Coppola and KRL for understanding that we can disagree, but still work together.

  6. Chris, the point I’m trying to make is that people need to know to what number to add 12.5 cents, or any other increase, in order to know what tax increase is being considered.

    Let’s use history to illustrate.

    You refer to the 2007 lid lift ballot proposition as an increase of 18 cents. Apparently, you are saying that it would have been an increase of 18 cents above the actual 2007 tax rate.

    The actual rate in 2007 was $0.307651, and the proposed rate for 2008 was $0.48.

    That would have been an increase of about 17.2 cents compared to the 2007 rate, if the voters had approved. (I assume you rounded off the 2007 rate to 30 cents rather than 31 cents.)

    But, most people realize that their taxes are determined by multiplying the tax rate by their assessed values–and that their assessed values change from one year to the next.

    So, to know what tax increase was proposed in that 2007 ballot measure, one must look at its effect on the taxes actually collected.

    The 2008 library district levy turned out to be $8,921,285 in 2008, since the voters didn’t approve the lid lift.

    The tax rate in 2008 turned out to be $0.280212.

    The lid lift would have raised the rate by almost 20 cents compared to what occurred without the lift, not 18 cents.

    The lid lift would have increased the 2008 levy by 78.3%, or $6,713,195 compared to what the levy had been in 2007.

    Compared to the 2008 levy without a lid lift, the ballot proposition would have increased the levy by 71.3%, or $6,360,780 above what it was without the lid lift.

    When stating what the lid lift would be, it’s not enough to say “12.5 cents” or some other figure. People have to know what to add that 12.5 cents to. Is it this year’s rate or next year’s projected rate that they should add 12.5 cents to?

    Now, the library district trustees are considering an increase of somewhere around $3.6 or $3.3 million–apparently not including the normal levy increase that would occur without a lid lift.

    To get such an increase above the ordinary levy increase, the tax rate on the ballot will have to be somewhere around 47 cents.

    If 12.5 cents (or some other number) is to be added to this year’s rate of $0.320397, then the rate that would appear on the ballot would be about $0.445–nowhere near enough to get the additional revenue the trustees are considering.

    But, if 12.5 cents is to be added to next year’s projected rate, the rate on the ballot would be about $0.468–pretty close to the roughly 47 cents needed to get the amount the trustees are considering.

    Unless the starting point is stated (either this year’s rate or next year’s projected rate), people are forced to guess which one you are adding 12.5 cents to.

    Why force them to guess? Ask the library district which starting point they are using when they say 12.5 cents (or some other number). Then report that starting point alongside the 12.5 cents (or some other number).

    It’s unfortunate we have to play this tax rate game, but the state law for lid lifts requires that the proposed tax rate be on the ballot, not the actual increase in the levy amount collected by that rate.

    It would be better if the library district (and any others seeking a lid lift) had to put on the ballot the levy amount they wish to collect in the coming year provided it can be collected without exceeding the maximum allowable tax rate.

    Then, the focus could be on the amount needed for the district’s plans, rather than a tax rate that is meaningless without the assessed value by which it must be multiplied to find the revenue available to be spent.

    But, in most times the current state law makes the lid lift seem smaller than it is–that is, when assessed values are rising. So, I don’t expect state law to change.

    Now, with assessed values falling, the state law makes the lid lift seem bigger than it is. But, this probably won’t be the case for much longer, so I expect state law to stay as is.

    Look at how the library trustees are influenced by the focus on the tax rate. They fear putting a rate on the ballot that seems too much like the rejected 48 cents.

    Yet, a lid lift for 2011 at 47 cents would increase their levy amount by a lot less than what the 48 cents would have done in 2008. Instead of the 2008 increase of about $6.7 million above the 2007 levy, a proposal this year for a lid lift to 47 cents would increase the 2011 levy by about $3.7 million above the 2010 levy amount. (I’m assuming total assessed values will be about 5% lower for next year’s taxes.)

    They can’t get anywhere close to the proposal made in 2007 when you look at the additional revenue that would be collected. It only looks close because of the misleading use of the proposed tax rate on the ballot rather than the amount to be collected.

  7. Sorry, I have one correction to my lengthy comment above. The Port Orchard library building is the fourth smallest KRL branch when measured on the basis of population served per square foot. Silverdale branch is the smallest; Kingston is next; Downtown Bremerton is third smallest, but it is also recently renovated.

  8. Over at the “Facebook” page for levy supporters is a new entry posted this afternoon about the meeting with Coppola that contains more of the same sort of confusing statements about the possible lid lift numbers:

    “Based on the latest estimates from the Kitsap Co. Assessor, a 12.5 cent KRL levy increase would generate about $3.3 or $3.4 million per year starting in 2011. After 2011, our annual levy can only rise 1 percent plus the value of new construction. But the annual increase will be on top of the $3.3 million that will then be included in our base every year. When we tell people about the plan, we talk about how that $3.3 million annually would be allocated to operations and to capital needs over the next 10 years.”

    The total assessed value for the library district this year is $29,031,595,841. The total assessed value needed to collect $3.3 to $3.4 million in 2011 with 12.5 cents per $1000 would be $26,400,000,000 to $27,200,000,000. That would be a decline in the tax base of 6.3% to 9.06%.

    I would bet the Assessor has not told them to base their estimates on a decline of that magnitude.

    It seems they aren’t including Port Orchard’s payment as part of the levy-generated revenue, even though the city’s payment would have to go up after a lid lift.

    If they were including Port Orchard’s payment, then the decline in assessed value would be 9.92% to 12.57%.

    Or, maybe they are just doing something I’m not imagining when they talk about the effect of an additional 12.5 cents in the tax rate.

    Notice that they, too, don’t say whether this is 12.5 cents in addition to what they project next year’s rate would be or if it’s 12.5 cents above this year’s actual rate.

    I’m guessing they mean it’s 12.5 cents above what they project next year’s rate will be.

    Too bad they don’t say so.

  9. Well, Jeff Brody’s comments have now been included late today as though they had been there all along. I suppose they were “in moderation” or something.

    But now that they’re visible, I’ll see if I can state in plain terms what Brody has said. Brody could perhaps then tell me whether I’ve stated his point correctly.

    First, “12.5 cents” is to be added to whatever the projected rate in 2011 would be without a lid lift. So, the rate on the ballot will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 47 cents, since the rate without a lid lift would be a little more than 34 cents.

    Second, a drop of 5 percent in the tax base for taxes due in 2011 produces less revenue with the additional 12.5 cents, so the initial estimate of $3.6 million additional revenue from a lid lift has been lowered to $3.3 or $3.4 million.

    Now, for the points I had already made.

    Brody’s arithmetic doesn’t work out.

    A 5 percent decline in the tax base doesn’t reduce the collection from the additional 12.5 cents to $3.3 or $3.4 million.

    The library district’s total assessed valuation now is $29,031,595,841. Reduced by 5 percent it would be $27,580,016,049 for taxes due in 2011.

    Multiplying this reduced tax base by a tax rate of 12.5 cents per $1000 results in $3,447,502.

    The city of Port Orchard has to pay the additional 12.5 cents too.

    The city’s current tax base is $1,165,037,143. Reduced by 5 percent it would be $1,106,785,286 for taxes due in 2011.

    Multiplying this reduced city tax base by a tax rate of 12.5 cents per $1000 results in an additional city payment of $138,348.

    The sum of the library district’s levy and the city’s payment is $3,585,850.

    The library district has not been including the city’s payment in calculating its estimated revenue resulting from the proposed lid lift.

    I cannot imagine why, since the city has to pay it under the existing contract; and if the city is annexed into the library district the library district gets the money straight from the city’s residents. Either way, the city’s payment has to be included when estimating the revenue generated by a lid lift.

    So, “bottom line”–the library district needs to collect about $3.6 million in addition to its ordinary annual levy increase in order to carry out its original list of items. Somehow that list has been pared down to $3.3 million, but it didn’t need to be pared down. All that was needed was to include the city’s increased payment along with the library district levy increase.

    “Serendipity”–now that the list has already been pared down to $3.3 million, going back up to $3.6 million by including at least some of the needs of South Kitsap should be no problem at all. There’s an extra $300,000 a year floating around waiting to be used. Since South Kitsap would be paying about $790,000 a year as a result of the proposed lid lift, accommodating some of South Kitsap’s needs would be both fair and feasible.

    P.S.–Yes, Jeff, I did know how you were intending that the 12.5 cents be stated, i.e., as an addition to the 34+ cents projected now as next year’s rate without a lift. Your bad arithmetic made me wonder if you were doing something else, but I was pretty sure the problem was your arithmetic, not my understanding of how you were intending the “12.5 cents” to be added to the projected tax rate for 2011. The problem is, I’m not an “authority” no matter whether I actually know what I’m talking about or not. And, since the voters need to get used to the figure that will be on the ballot, I believe it is useful to state it alongside the “12.5 cents.” However, you are the only one who could get that done by asking Chris to do it.

  10. To Bob Meadows,

    I’ve referred your comment to our CFO for his review. I will be happy to post further once I get his answer to your questions about his financial projections.

    Jeff Brody
    KRL Director of Community Relations

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