Every year, the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees adopts a balanced budget for the 22 community libraries, online services, Library on Wheels and a service center to meet the needs of nearly750,000 residents across Snohomish and Island counties.
The budget authorizes spending for library operations and maintenance, including library staffing, materials, equipment, professional services, infrastructure, training and insurance based upon the forecast of revenues.
Sno-Isle Libraries receives 98 percent of its funding for ongoing maintenance and operations from a general property tax levy.
The levy must be approved by voters within the library district in Snohomish and Island counties. The levy applies to all properties in the unincorporated areas of Snohomish and Island counties and properties within cities where voters have approved annexation to the library district. The levy is listed on county property-tax statements and collected by county treasurers in Snohomish and Island counties. The funds are then transferred to Sno-Isle Libraries.
In addition to the general library levy, Sno-Isle Libraries receives about 2 percent of its funding for library services from the following sources:
Timber excise tax (state and private timber sales)
Leasehold excise tax
Capital projects, such as new or substantially renovated libraries, are paid for by voter-approved bond levies. Funds from bond levies are earmarked for specific capital projects and cannot be used for other purposes.Once the capital-project bonds are paid off, the bond levy ends and is longer assessed.
According to state law, the Sno-Isle library general library levy rate cannot be more than $0.50 (50¢) for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
The levy rate adjusts annually, primarily based on assessed property values within the library district. Generally, when property values increase in Snohomish and Island counties, the general library levy rate goes down. When property values decrease, the levy rate can increase.
Changes in assessed property value are determined by the assessor's offices in each county and on a total county-wide level, not by specific community or individual property values. Regardless of the property value, the levy rate cannot exceed the maximum cap or "lid" of $0.50 (50¢) for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
In 2017, the rate is $0.415 (41.5¢) for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
Levy rate ballot measures
The Board of Trustees for Sno-Isle Libraries may as necessary submit a ballot measure to voters to increase the levy rate, also known as "lifting the lid." Such ballot measures are part of the normal funding cycle for agencies reliant on property tax revenue such as So-Isle Libraries.
The most recent voter-approved general library levy lid lift was in 2009.
Both the Snohomish County Council and the Board of Island County Commissioners must approve putting the measure before voters.
To be approved by voters, a library levy 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.
A voter-approved levy is certified by officials in both counties and the rate and is the same rate for all properties within the library district.