City council endorses school levies, library lid lift

The Snoqualmie City Council unanimously endorsed February levy attempts by the Snoqualmie Valley School District and King County Library System.

The council votes came Monday, Jan. 25, after KCLS Director Bill Ptacek, Snoqualmie librarian Irene Wickstrom, Two Rivers teacher Jack Webber and schools superintendent Joel Aune spoke about levy needs and asked for support.

The two school replacement levies on the ballot include a maintenance and operations levy and a technology levy. Since the current levies, approved by voters in 2006, expire after 2010, the upcoming measures would renew local funding for 2011 to 2014.

"We ask our citizens to support the Snoqualmie Valley schools and vote "yes" on both propositions,” said Councilwoman Kathi Prewitt.

“The school district faces diminishing federal and state funding and is more reliant than ever on our local support," she said. "Both of these levies provide funding that directly impacts the day-to-day learning of our youth."

“Great schools are the foundation of great communities,” said Mayor Matt Larson. “We cannot afford to let our schools lose ground.”

Busy libraries

The proposition on the ballot for the Feb. 9 special election would restore the property tax levy for 2011 to support of library programs. A homeowner would pay an increase of approximately $32 on a home assessed at $400,000, or 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Larson described the library as an invaluable resource for those looking for work and for those cutting family budgets on book purchases, tutoring, subscriptions, AV rentals or Internet access.

"The quality of this resource is sustainable only if the larger community continues to support it,” he said.

The Snoqualmie Library is staffed by 25 rotating employees, who also serve at the Fall City and North Bend Libraries. Statistics comparing 2007 and 2008 usage at the Snoqualmie Library show a 59 percent increase in circulation and a 32 percent increase in library event attendance. The total traffic count for 2008 was more than 96,000.

From November to December 2009 – only one month – circulation increased 8 percent. Other statistics about 2009 Snoqualmie library usage will soon be published by KCLS.

“With the restrictions of I-747, KCLS is unable to maintain services at their current levels, having already taken a $1.9 million cut out of its operating budget in 2009 for library materials,” said Councilman Bryan Holloway, who is the council's liaison to the Snoqualmie Library Advisory Board. “The benefits the community will receive from this levy clearly outweigh the cost.”

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