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Proposed New Lake Stevens Library

location of proposed Lake Stevens Library
The new library would be built near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place

Working toward a new library for Lake Stevens

The results of the Feb. 14 election were a bit confusing.  There were two ballot measures and both needed to pass to get a new Lake Stevens Library. However, each measure had different rules for passing. Here’s what happened:

Proposition 1 was pretty simple. It created the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area. To pass, it needed a simple majority (50 percent plus one) and there was no voter-turnout threshold. It passed with a 69 percent approval, 5,327 “yes” votes to 2,389 “no” votes.

Proposition 2 is where things got more complicated. It was about selling bonds to pay a new library. To pass, it needed two things: First, voter turnout had to be at least 40 percent of those who voted in the previous general election (November, 2016). Second, at least 60 percent of those voting (the 40 percent) had to say “yes.”

Prop. 2 got a 66 percent “yes” vote, 5,096 to 2,619. BUT, turnout fell short by 749 voters. So, Prop. 2 got enough “yes” votes, but not enough total voters so it didn’t pass.

What happening now?

Sno-Isle Libraries is working toward asking voters to approve funding for a new library. The Capital Facility Area is already approved so only a bond measure would be needed on a ballot. The Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees would consider the issue this fall with a potential vote in 2018.


What do you want to know about a new Lake Stevens Library? Here are some frequently asked questions about the proposed project.

Why does Lake Stevens need a new library?

Lake Stevens-area residents have consistently noted over the past 20 years that the current library building is too small and cramped to meet community needs. Recent public feedback includes:

Was there a vote?

Yes, ballots were mailed Jan. 26 with a return deadline of Feb. 14, 2017.

What was on the ballot?

The ballot included two measures. Both measures had to pass by the required margins before work can proceed on a new Lake Stevens Library facility. The measures asked:

  • Proposition 1 - Whether to form a Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA) in which funds could be raised to build and furnish a new Lake Stevens Library. An LCFA can be used only for a library. Passage requires a simple majority. 
    • Note: Proposition 1 establishing the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area passed with 69 percent approval .
  • Proposition 2 - Whether bonds should be issued to build a library. Passage requires two criteria be met; a) 40 percent of those who voted in the previous general election must vote on this measure; b) 60 percent or more of those voting must approve the measure.
    • Note: Proposition 2 received a 66 percent approval, but did not achieve the required voter turnout and did not pass.

What happens now?

Library district officials are reviewing the results and discussing options with community members and leaders. If a decision is made to come back to the voters, only a new bond measure would be required on the ballot because the LCFA was approved in the Feb. 14 election.

Who was eligible to vote in the Feb. 14 election?

Registered voters who live within the boundaries of the now-approved Library Capital Facilities Area (LCFA) were sent a mail-in ballot by the Snohomish County Auditor's Office that included two Lake Stevens Library-related measures.

What are the LCFA boundaries?

The LCFA boundaries for the new Lake Stevens Library are the same as the Lake Stevens School District boundaries.

What is an LCFA?

LCFA stands for Library Capital Facilities Area. According to state law, an LCFA can be used only for financing the construction of library capital facilities. A library capital facility includes land, buildings, site improvements, equipment, furnishings, collections, financing, design, construction, equipping, remodeling and all necessary costs related to acquisition. Once a library capital facility is paid off, the LCFA is dissolved.

How would a new library be funded?

Capital project bonds for a new Lake Stevens Library must be approved by voters who live inside a Library Capital Facilities Area (LCFA), which follows the boundaries of the Lake Stevens School District. Funds from the bonds can be used only to build and furnish a library.

Didn't we already vote for a new library in 2008?

The 2008 vote was about funding library services, not a library building. In 2008, City of Lake Stevens residents approved annexing to (joining) Sno-Isle Libraries. Before 2008, the City of Lake Stevens paid for library services by contract with Sno-Isle Libraries. However, the library building is still owned and operated by the city. If voters approve approved, the two measures Feb. 14, 2017 ballot would enable building a new library facility owned by the library district on property owned by the district.

How much would a new library cost?

Costs related to a new Lake Stevens Library depend on the size and amenities of a new facility. The proposed bond measure on the Feb. 14 ballot was $17 million.

How much would I pay?

For the proposed Feb. 14 ballot measure bond, the owner of a $350,000 home within the LCFA would have paid about $86 a year over the 20-year life of a bond. How much each property owner might pay depends on two things; the assessed value of a person's property and the amount of the bond. 

Are there any exemptions to the proposed property tax?

Yes. The State of Washington has a property tax exemption program for senior citizens and disabled persons.The program is available to taxpayers who are, on December 31 of the year before the taxes are due, at least 61 years of age or older; OR retired from regular gainful employment by reason of disability; OR a veteran of the armed forces of the United States entitled to and receiving compensation from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs at a total disability rating for a service-connected disability. Details are available at the state Department of Revenue website.

Why can't the library be expanded at the current location?

The existing library is in a building owned by the City of Lake Stevens. City officials have expressed a vision for the land that doesn't include the library. Sno-Isle Libraries is supportive of the city's vision and process and city officials expressed support for the library district's proposal.

Where would a new library be?

In 2016, Sno-Isle Libraries purchased property near the corner of 99th Avenue NE and Market Place. The site is next to land the City of Lake Stevens previously purchased for civic facilities. The library district and city are participating in a joint site development plan for the proposed construction of a voter-approved library building and separate city-related public facilities. No library-district funds would be used for city facilities

Did the library district use eminent domain to buy the land it purchased?

No. Sno-Isle Libraries doesn't have the ability to use eminent domain. The library district worked through a broker to make the purchase from a willing seller. Following an independent appraisal, the library district paid the seller's full asking price.   

What would a new library look like?

Community input and involvement would be sought on the design and appearance of a new Lake Stevens Library. However, initial assumptions are that a 20,000 square feet library would accommodate the existing community as well as anticipated growth. For a general comparison of size, the Monroe Library is 20,000 square feet. 

Storytime programs are popular at the existing Lake Stevens Library.

Adults often use the Lake Stevens Library to study for school or prepare for job opportunities.

Who decided whether a new library is needed?

Community input received for The Sno-Isle Libraries 2016-25 Capital Facilities Plan and in previous community surveys clearly indicate the sentiment that current library is too small to serve the growing Lake Stevens community and that a new, larger library is needed.

How is Sno-Isle Libraries funded?

Nearly all of the funding for Sno-Isle Libraries comes from voter-approved tax levies on most property owned within the library district in Snohomish and Island counties. There are two main types of levies:

  • General: This operation and maintenance levy is ongoing and covers library services. The levy can adjust annually based upon assessed property values, but is capped at 50¢ per $1,000 of assessed property value. In 2016, the rate is 44¢ per $1,000 of assessed value for property within the library district.
  • Capital facility bonds: Capital facility bonds pay for projects such as new libraries. Bonds are sold to investors and paid off through a property tax levy. A capital bond levy is also expressed in cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The exact amount depends on the size of bond as approved by voters. Capital bond levies are assessed for a specific amount time, often 10 years.

Much smaller funding sources for Sno-Isle Libraries include a timber excise tax on state and private timber sales, leasehold excise tax, contract fees, donations, grants and investment interest.

How much do I pay now?

The amount can change due to variables in individual and countywide property values. Most property owners in Snohomish and Island counties that are in the library district currently pay a general levy of 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Some property owners who are in voter-approved LCFAs also pay a capital bond levy. You can check your property tax statement for the exact amounts.

How are Sno-Isle Libraries funds used?

The answer depends on the source of the funds come.

  • Money from the general property tax levy, timber excise tax, leasehold excise tax, contract fees, grants and investment interest go toward General Fund expenses. About 68 percent of the General Fund is spent on employee salaries and benefits. About 14 percent is spent on items for the library collection and less than 5 percent on professional and contract services (such as janitorial service). All other General Fund items are at about 2 percent or less and cover things like software licenses, equipment and furnishings and insurance.
  • Money from capital facilities bonds is spent on construction of buildings and things that go with buildings as outlined in state law.

How much does the current library get used?

More than 110,000 library customers use the Lake Stevens Library each year. In 2015, nearly 175,000 items were checked out at the library. Lake Stevens Library customers downloaded content or used streaming services another 31,000 times in 2015.

What services do I get from a library?

The "Wild Horses" team from Sunnycrest Elementary in Lake Stevens took first place in Sno-Isle Libraries 2016 Third Grade Reading Challenge.

With a Sno-Isle Libraries card (no charge, by the way), you can:

  • Borrow books, either in person or online.
  • Borrow DVDs and CDs.
  • Download books, magazines and audiobooks to your personal device
  • Stream movies, music and TV shows.
  • Use computers, printers and other hardware and software.
  • Get personalized help from a librarian via chat, text, email, phone or in person.
  • Do your homework with one-on-one help from an online tutor.
  • Practice college entrance exams such as the SAT, ACT and GRE.
  • Learn to speak one of 71 languages.
  • Access databases and …
    • Create mailing lists and sales leads by geography, type, size, ownership or credit rating.
    • Review market research on thousands of mutual funds, stocks, and exchange-traded funds.
    • Learn how to fix your car.
    • Look up facts on every U.S. prescription drug
  • Find recipes from every country in the world.
  • Print your own will, power of attorney and other legal forms.
  • Take online courses to learn how to use software

Even without a Sno-Isle Libraries card, you can:

  • Use computers in the libraries.
  • Attend most library programs.
  • Use library public spaces.

Who works at the library?

The current Lake Stevens Library staff includes Managing Librarian Sonia Gustafson, Children's Librarian Monica Jackson and eight other full- and part-time staff members.

Sno-Isle Libraries has almost 500 employees across the entire district, covers two counties and includes 21 libraries plus the service center. The staffing at each library varies based on the size of the facility and community. Each of the libraries has a manager, in addition to librarians and then additional staff members, some full-time, some part-time.

Has Sno-Isle Libraries built other libraries recently?

Yes. The new Camano Island Library opened Aug. 1, 2015. In that case, a demonstration project had been in place since 2006 in a small storefront. Following voter approval, a former restaurant was extensively renovated for the new and larger library. Since opening the new facility, the number of customers coming to the library has increased by more than 60 percent and borrowing has increased by about 32 percent.


A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
- Henry Ward Beecher