Proposed Silverdale library would get largest chunk of levy dollars

A new Silverdale library would get the greatest share of money if a levy increase on the November ballot passes.

The Kitsap Regional Library Board of Trustees voted 5-0 Tuesday to put a $3.65 million per year levy increase on this year’s general election ballot to help expand operating hours and pay for construction projects, such as a new library in Silverdale.

The measure would increase the library district’s levy in 2001 from $9.34 million to $12.9 million. The property tax rate increase is estimated to go from 34.5 cents to 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, according to a Kitsap Regional Library news release.

Almost 22 percent of those extra dollars will pay for a new 17,500 square-foot library in Silverdale – a larger share than any other proposed allocation of the money. Of the $36.5 million the levy increase would raise in the first 10 years, $7.95 million would go to the building’s construction. Another $1 million would need to be collected from private fundraising.

At 6,000 square feet, Silverdale’s branch on Carlton Street doesn’t have enough space for all the books it could use – librarians discard books that the branch would otherwise keep due to the lack of adequate shelf space in the cramped building, said Abbie Anderson, Silverdale Library branch manager. The place could also use more space for meetings, programs and events.

“We are busting at the seams in a lot of ways,” Anderson said. “A lot of good things will come from a new building.”

Kitsap Regional Library hopes to build its new branch on the Community Campus on Randall Way, next to the YMCA currently under construction.

Like at libraries throughout the county, the Silverdale branch has cut down on its collection, operating hours and services since 2007 due to rising expenses and decreasing income. That year, the libraries lost a levy increase ballot measure by 9 percent that would have helped sustain operation levels districtwide.

Despite the loss three years ago, Kitsap Regional Library spokesman Jeff Brody said the libraries are offering a better deal to voters this go-around. First, this measure proposes an increase about half the size of the 2007 measure, which called for a $6.7 million lift. Also, this year’s levy increase would help pay for construction projects in Silverdale, Kingston and Port Orchard.

The 2007 measure was also damaged by a Port of Bremerton tax increase about a month before the election, Brody said.

To sell voters on the library levy, a political action committee, Vote Yes for Kitsap Libraries, has campaigned for the past several months, organizing phone banks and sub-committees for each community.

“It will be a lot of work to make it clear to the voters what we’re offering,” Anderson said.

In addition to a new building, the Silverdale branch would be able to restore the full business hours it lost after the 2007 levy defeat and beef up its collection and technology.

Without a library levy increase, services will continue to decline due to rising operating and benefits costs, Brody said.

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