Thu, May 28, 2020
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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A vote for annexation is just a vote for annexation, says TRL

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The Timberland Regional Library (TRL) District would like to remind Toledo voters of the differences between approving annexation and establishing a library in town.

While TRL has said approving annexation is an important first step toward bringing a library to Toledo, they also seek to make clear it provides no guarantee any such facility will be put in place, though annexation does grant residents entitlement to TRL cards and services.

According to TRL Communications Manager Jeff Kleingartner, if annexation passes during the General Election, TRL would follow up with a study in which Toledo's need for services, proximity to other libraries, and other factors would be examined to determine if a new location would be appropriate.

If Toledo qualifies, the library district could then choose to establish either a book drop location, a kiosk with books on reserve, or a full library, dependent partly on funding available to the district for a new facility. But Kleingartner added the study may also give TRL cause to not establish any library facilities at all in the city, depending on the study’s conclusions.

As another result of annexation, if approved, Toledo would contribute to TRL's funding base in the form of a new property tax of $0.415 per $1,000 of assessed value, regardless of whether or not a library facility is in town. This tax, currently paid by those living in unincorporated areas of Lewis County, would not be collected in Toledo until 2015, since TRL’s 2014 budget has already been set as of Aug. 1, and Kleingartner said any potential library services in town would not begin until that time.

It was also clarified by Kleingartner the City of Toledo would have to pay for all maintenance and utilities for any facility yet to be approved, which can amount to around $15,000 per year in the case of cities like Winlock who own their library's building. If the city currently does not have funding for such a commitment, they may have to eliminate other city services or increase local taxes in order to raise the funds, as well as reach out to community organizations for support.

It has also been clarified Toledo has yet to acquire the proposed building currently owned by Pat and Bill Caldwell, though the Caldwells have stated it is their intent to donate the building for use as a library. In order to qualify as a candidate for a full library, however, TRL officials have said the Caldwells would have to donate their building to the city before any guarantee of a library is given, as Toledo will not be considered for such services until a building has been secured.

Kleingartner has urged voters to think of annexation as the approval of library cards for residents within Toledo, with the option of looking at the possibility of a library in the future. He stated the current cost of a library card for those living outside the district is $83 per year, and is worth comparing to the cost of a new property tax.

But he did state associating the approval of annexation with the approval of a library would be "putting the cart before the horse."

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