Sno-Isle Libraries serves 728,745 residents in Washington's Snohomish and Island counties through 22 community libraries, online services, and Library on Wheels encompassing 2,260 square miles.
The Sno-Isle district dates from 1944 when the Snohomish County Rural Library District was established by a vote of residents in the unincorporated areas of Snohomish County.
Voters in Island County established an Island County Rural Library District in 1962, following a successful demonstration of library service on Whidbey Island by the Snohomish County Rural Library District. County Commissioners from both counties jointly created the Snohomish-Island Inter-County Rural Library District in December 1962.
The district's Board of Trustees adopted the name Sno-Isle Libraries, reflecting the common interest of providing quality library services to residents of both counties.
Ninety-eight percent of the funding for library service provided by Sno-Isle Libraries comes from a general library levy or tax on property owned within the Library District. The levy is collected by the Snohomish and Island County treasurers and transferred to Sno-Isle Libraries. It affects all properties in the unincorporated areas of Snohomish and Island County, as well as properties within cities which have voted to annex into the Library District.
Sno-Isle Libraries receives funding from the following sources:
General property levy
timber excise tax (state and private timber sales)
leasehold excise tax
capital project bonds
There are two types of library district levies: general (for ongoing library operations and general maintenance) and bond levies.
General Library Levy
General library operation and maintenance levies are ongoing and provide regular funding for library services; therefore voters are rarely asked to approve the general library levy. In 2014, the Sno-Isle library levy rate is 50¢ per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Property owners can find the library levy rate on their annual property tax statement.
The levy adjusts annually based upon assessed property values within the library district and the library budget. Generally, when property values increase in Snohomish and Island County, the general library levy rate goes down. When property values decrease, the levy rate increases.
Under state law, public library budgets can increase by no more than 1 percent each year. The levy rate also has a maximum cap or "lid" of 50¢ per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The board of trustees for Sno-Isle Libraries may submit general library levy measures for voter consideration to occasionally raise the l percent lid on the levy rate. The Snohomish County Council and Board of Island County Commissioners must both approve placing a library levy lid measure on the ballot.
The last voter approved general library levy lid was in 2009.
In order to receive voter approval, a library levy lid ballot measure must receive a simple majority of "yes" votes. State law allows for an unsuccessful library levy ballot measure to be resubmitted to voters for reconsideration at a later time.
The State Constitution gives counties authority to collect local property taxes annually to fund the operation and maintenance of county and inter-county library services. The library levy is collected and then transferred to the library district. The library levy tax rate is certified by the respective boards of county commissioners and is the same rate for all properties within the library district.
Library Levy Rate History
The Sno-Isle Libraries levy adjusts annually based upon assessed property values within the library district and the library budget.
Generally, when assessed property values increase in Snohomish and Island County, the general library levy rate goes down. When assessed property values decrease, the levy rate increases. Changes in assessed property value are determined by the county assessor's offices on a total county-wide level, not by specific community or individual property.
When total county property valuations change, the library levy rate will normally adjust in the following calendar year or within 18 months.
Every year, Sno-Isle Libraries adopts a balanced budget. It authorizes spending for library operations and maintenance, including library staffing, materials, equipment, professional services, infrastructure, training and insurance based upon the forecast of revenues.