Public hearing on library funding provides backdrop for community feedback
On July 31, the Board of County Commissioners presided over a public hearing regarding the future of the Multnomah County Library. The hearing, which was attended by residents from across the community, provided an opportunity for members of the public to share their views on a potential library district with the board.
“The [library] district is something that would provide stability for the library and provide a way to restore full services that have been cut,” said Chair Jeff Cogen during his opening remarks at the hearing on Tuesday. “It’s also something that would require an increase in taxes and have an impact on jurisdictions. So it’s an important issue, it’s a complex issue, and it’s one we’re making informed by our community’s values and decisions.”
During public testimony, the board listened as students, parents, representatives of local organizations and members of the business community alike shared their perspectives on the library.
“Ever since I’ve been a baby people have been telling me what is important and what’s not important,” fifth grader Jacob Stoller said. “What I do think is important is that we have a library that’s open seven days a week. I need the library open seven days a week.”
Constituent Michael Jennings explained why he believes access to literature is integral to progress.
“It’s easy to show why everyone should support libraries. Find people that never read books. Ask them about their lives,” Jennings said. “Do they like to watch digital TV? Digital TV was designed by people who read books. Even for people who never read, easy access to books is important.”
This public hearing marked the second to last opportunity for residents to formally address the board before their Aug. 2 vote on whether or not to refer a library district to the November 2012 ballot. Such a library district would provide permanent, stable funding for the library, which currently receives up to two-thirds of its funding from a temporary tax levy of 89 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
The Board of Commissioners will vote on the referral of a library district during their regular meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2 in the board room of the Multnomah Building, 501 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. Before the vote, residents will be able to provide testimony to the board for a final time.