Category Archives: Kitsap Regional Library

Bonus Taxing Capacity, Deja Vu

I just wanted to call out a part of my story this week on a proposed merger between South Kitsap Fire and Rescue and the Bremerton Fire Department.

According to Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, there is the possibility, repeat possibility, that the merger could produce something called bonus taxing capacity for the city of Bremerton. Many variables go into calculating the city’s maximum allowable tax rate, and remember that, if the merger is approved on the November, 2011 ballot, the tax implications pertain to 2012. So anyone trying to make predictions as to whether this would happen or not would have to make some educated guesses about the variables.

What the implications would be for individual Bremerton property owners is likewise hard to pin down. But Avery did confirm that the merger could play out in the same manner as when the cities of Poulsbo and Port Orchard were annexed into NKFR and SKFR respectively. The same potential exists as a result of Port Orchard’s annexation into Kitsap County Regional Library District. The PO council, however, has said they do not plan to access the additional taxing capacity, so it gets “banked” until and unless a future council chose to use it.

Avery said he and his staff would take a closer look at the numbers, but with the holiday, I don’t expect a quick answer.

Bremerton City Council President Nick Wofford said he would not comment on the hypothetical possibility of the city being able to use or bank bonus taxing capacity because there are currently too many unknowns.

Hypothetical as this issue — and the merger itself — are, I mention bonus taxing capapacity not to stir up Chicken Little, running around squawking “tax hike, tax, hike!” But the possibility of such does deserve mention and more analysis.

PO Library Annexation Potential Effect on KRL Levy Measure

The passage of Port Orchard’s Library annexation measure in Tuesday’s primary throws a wild card into the deck with regards to Kitsap Regional Library’s proposed levy lid lift, to come before voters Nov. 2.

The city of Port Orchard was the only local jurisdiction not officially part of Kitsap County Rural Library District. With approval of the annexation, city property owners will begin in 2012 to pay taxes directly toward the library district. They immediately gain the right to vote on the library district levy lid lift measure. The library services they receive will not change, however, because the city currently contracts with KRL for access to the entire KRL collection.

The Kitsap Regional Library Board of Trustees earlier this year conducted a telephone survey (KRLsupporters) of potential supporters (people who voted in favor of the most recent school district levy in their respective districts). The thought is, people who support schools are likely to support libraries as well. Voters turned down a library levy increase in 2007, and the board, before they placed the measure before voters again, wanted to know they had an adequate support base. The levy must pass with a simple majority of just more than 50 percent, but in terms of support, the board was looking for percentages in the 70 to 80 percent range.

What they found is, fewer folks in South Kitsap said they’d support the library levy increase than residents of other areas of the county (see pdf below). Levels of support in order are South Kitsap with just less than 60 percent, Bremerton with just less than 70 percent, Central Kitsap with 70 percent, North Kitsap with just less than 80 percent and Bainbridge Island with about 83 percent.

Port Orchard’s library annexation adds South Kitsap voters to the total number of people voting on the library levy. If KRL’s survey results hold true, that could increase the percentage of “no” voters on the library levy measure.

It’s also not clear from the library annexation results whether those who voted in favor of it (by a slam dunk margin of 71.7 percent) would favor or oppose a library levy hike. Perhaps the 987 city residents who voted for annexation were saying, “Heck, yes, we want a chance to vote ‘no!'”

Speaking of annexations, the 2009 annexation of McCormick Woods added about 2,000 people to the city’s population of about 8,000. Local officials have speculated that McWoods voters could carry significant weight in elections, and library officials at a recent meeting speculated that McWoods might be more inclined to support libraries.

Again, you can’t make a correlation between voting for the annexation and voting for the library levy increase, but for what it’s worth, the annexation approval rate in McWoods was 65 percent. In the rest of the city it was 59 percent.

How Would Library Levy Increase Be Spent?

Jeff Brody, spokesman for Kitsap Regional Library, sent the Kitsap Sun a press release (LibraryPress) detailing Tuesday’s meeting of the library board,. The meeting included a review by CFO Bob Goldstein of how revenue generated by a levy lid lift would be apportioned according to a 10-year plan. The board is leaning toward running a ballot measure Nov. 2. Brody also discussed cuts made in the library system and why the board is considering a lid lift.

Here is the list from Brody’s release:
“If placed on the ballot and approved by a majority of voters, the proposal would result in the library having an additional $3.6 million per year in revenue. The owner of a $250,000 home would pay $31.25 per year in additional property taxes. (My note: the current amount is 32 cents per $1,000; the owner of a $250,000 home now pays $80 a year.)

About $17.5 million over 10 years would be directed toward operations, including:
• Adding back hours of operation, six hours per week at each of the nine branches, including reopening on Saturday mornings
• Increasing spending on the library’s collection. This would reduce wait times for books many patrons want and eventually increase the overall size of the library’s collection.
• Restoring live online homework help for Kitsap County students. This service was eliminated because of recent budget cuts.
• Increasing staff and covering expanded operations at Silverdale and Kingston as the two new, expanded libraries in those communities open
• Expanding technology spending, including money for computers and software, the catalog system and the KRL web site
• Enhancing programs and services at all the KRL branches
• Building KRL’s financial reserves so that the system has enough cash on hand to pay for a month’s spending

The library system would use about $18.5 million over the first 10 years for capital projects, including:
• Building a new library branch in Silverdale, to open in 2013
• Building a new library branch in Kingston, to open in 2015
• Earmarking funds to help the city of Port Orchard build a new library facility
• Creating a pool of money that will help the other entities that own the buildings that house KRL branches to perform needed capital improvements, pay for energy efficiencies or expand.

The two new libraries would be paid for with cash or with short-term bonds. KRL has hired local architectural firm Rice Fergus Miller to verify the system’s cost estimates for the two new libraries and assure the public that the levy can fund the projects promised if the levy passes.

KRL owns the Sylvan Way and Silverdale branch library buildings. The other seven are owned by Kitsap County; the cities of Port Orchard, Bremerton and Poulsbo; the S’Klallam Tribe; and non-profit organizations on Bainbridge Island and in Manchester. KRL has asked each of the building owners to identify specific building needs that could be addressed with money from the levy.”

Chris Henry, reporter