Citizen’s Library Advisory Ad Hoc Committee
November 29, 2007
Guanajuato Room, Ashland Public Library
Ashworth, Brown, Churchman, Vavra, Battistella, Burkholder, Keil, Gibb, Seltzer (city staff liaison), Kinard (library staff)
Jim Olney, (Library Foundation), Julie French (Daily Tidings), Anne Billiter, Ann Guavara
Call to Order:
The meeting was called to order at 4:00 pm. Vavra added one item to the agenda, the resignation of Susan Roudebush; agenda approved.
There was no public comment.
Approval of Minutes:
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved by the committee.
Accept resignation of Roudebush:
The resignation of Roudebush was regretfully accepted by the committee.
Presentation by Ruth Metz and Tom Sponsler:
Ruth Metz, state library consultant and Tom Sponsler were introduced. Sponsler passed out a timeline detailing the steps to form a special district. He explained that a special district must determine a fixed tax rate just as cities and counties. This means that over time expenses increase but no “new” money comes in. It is possible to get a higher authorized tax rate but the district is not required to access the full amount until needed. No additional taxes can be levied. Generally, a library special district is funded 95% through the property tax and 5% through fees and fines.
There are two ways to form a special district: by petition or by resolution. The resolution must be made by the council commissioners of the county where the special district will be formed. It cannot be formed by the individual cities.
Either way requires an economic feasibility study must be completed and must include an analysis of existing and needed library services. The formation of the district process involves three key steps: 1) petition to form special district or resolution 2) approval of tax rate and 3) the formation of a aboard of directors. All three are included in the ballot measure. The formation of a special district can only occur at a November election during even numbered years though that requirement may change in an upcoming election.
The committee questioned and discussed boundaries of a district. Whether a small district could be formed and later other areas added to the district or if the district boundaries must be determined in advance. Sponsler explained that it could be done (a separate and different process) and that the other areas/communities would have to opt in to the fixed tax rate previously determined at the formation of the special district. A special district need not have contiguous boundaries.
A district could be formed and could use the money to contract with the county to provide library services via an intergovernmental agreement (IGA). Keil wondered if there is another revenue source that can be used to fund a library district beyond property tax. Metz commented that 95% of library funding is through property tax and the remaining 5% generally comes from fees and fines.
Keil asked about forming a new county. Sponsler explained that the formation of a new county must be approved by the Oregon legislature and must be large enough to be considered. There could be one library district for the entire State but to date no multiple county districts exist.
Metz was asked to comment on whether the data she collected a few years ago re: library services in Jackson County was still valid. She explained that she met with each city Manager in southern Oregon about funding and the possibility of forming a special district. Each was less interested in paying for library services and more interested in a special district. She does not know if those sentiments are the same today.
Metz asked the committee about the current political climate in Jackson County regarding libraries and which other communities are supplementing current library services. Only Ashland and Talent are currently supplementing library services.
Vavra expressed concern that the County Library Advisory Committee is looking at putting a countywide district on the ballot in 2010. She has heard a proposal for a sales tax to fund Jackson and Josephine libraries. She expressed concerned about the likelihood of success in getting county wide support given the lack of support at two recent elections to fund libraries.
It was explained that during the last election two of the three county commissioners were publicly opposed to the library levy. Failure of the levy could have resulted from other funding measures that were on the ballot and/or lack of trust in county government because of the belief that previously passed library funds were misused.
Keil mentioned that Ashland, Talent, rural Talent and the Rogue Valley Manor were the only areas the fully supported the funding of libraries.
Metz suggested Ashland could consider continuing its local option levy for two extra years and work towards a county-wide district. If it fails, start the process of forming a smaller district.
Discussion moved to the importance of establishing criteria by which to measure the options so the committee could clearly demonstrate due diligence when bringing a recommendation forward to the council. Vavra asked how we weigh the probability of success for our recommendation.
Gibb offered the following criteria as a basis for determining a recommendation:
1) political stability
2) long term stability
3) appropriate level of service for Ashland
Sponsler agreed with the criteria and suggested a reverse order.
Churchman offered a few different funding options to be fleshed out:
- Special district based on county boundaries
- Special district based on new boundaries
- Special district with supplemental funding by cities
- Extend the current system.
Metz offered to draft a variety of funding alternatives with criteria. She could send the initial list to the committee to use as a starting point and no doubt other alternatives and criteria would emerge. Then she will work with the committee to develop an action plan.
She also suggested speaking with the county commissioners/county administrator to determine if they would even consider placing a special district on the ballot.
Meta will send a copy of the Wasco County economic feasibility study.
Review of update interview questions (Gibb):
Review and prioritize Resource List (Batistella):
Batistellas passed out the updated Resource List. Vavra suggested now is the time to send a letter to the list of contacts. Gibb suggested going through the list and prioritizing. He sees two pieces of work: 1) list of funding options and criteria and 2) research and interviews.
Vavra reminded the group of the study session scheduled for next week, December 6, and clarified the purpose would be for the committee to informally work without making any formal decisions. Attendance is optional. Someone will take notes of the study session and send to Seltzer.
Seltzer will provide Ashland’s share of central services fees for library services.
Seltzer will provide copy of current IGA with county for library services.
Seltzer will provide cost estimate to run the library as a municipal library.
Future Dates of Meetings
Dec. 6 – Study Session – Guajauato Room
Dec 13 – Meeting – Guanajuato Room
Dec 20 –Study Session – Gresham Room
Dec 27 – Meeting – Guanajuato Room
Meeting Adjourned at 6:05 pm