Pierce County Library System is seeking the public’s input to learn the public’s top priorities for library services at its 18 full-service branches.
“We are talking with people about the library’s funding constraints, which stem from costs to run the Library System growing at a faster and higher rate than revenues,” said Georgia Lomax, executive director of the Library System, in a press release. “In the past 12 years, our service area has grown by 82,000 people, straining resources to serve growing communities.”
While costs to run the library system have increased by an average of 4-7 percent a year, the library said, property tax revenues have lagged behind, at an average rate of 1-3 percent. Property taxes make up approximately 94 percent of Pierce County Library’s revenue.
The use of library materials – checkouts of books, movies, music and other items – has grown by 33 percent since 2006. During that same time, attendance in classes and events – such as story times and block play for kids, and technology and job readiness courses for adults – has surged by 700 percent, according to the library.
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Open houses for the public to voice their opinion on priorities for library services are noon-2 p.m. Feb. 3, 5-7 p.m. Feb. 12, 3-5 p.m. Feb. 21 and 11 a.m.-1p.m. Feb. 27 at South Hill, 15420 Meridian E; Bonney Lake, 18501 90th St. E; Sumner, 1116 Fryar Ave.; and Orting, 202 Washington Ave. S, branches.
Library leaders said they will share the public’s ideas with a community advisory committee, which the library is forming to review and assess funding library services. The committee is expected to make a recommendation about funding for the Library to the Library’s Board of Trustees this summer.
Options to manage funding might include asking voters to increase property taxes to serve the area’s growing communities or further decreasing library services, the library said.
By state law, library districts, such as Pierce County Library, may receive property taxes for up to 50 cents per every $1,000 in assessed property value. The library’s current tax rate is 42.94 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value that is projected to decrease to 41.50 cents in 2019.