Get a Card   

Proposed New Lake Stevens Library

location of proposed Lake Stevens Library

The new library would be built near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place

Lake Stevens Library Managing Librarian Sonia Gustafson and members of the Lake Stevens Library Board, Kevin Stone, Abe Martinez, Debbie Ames, Janice Stepp, Board Chair Shaelynn Charvet Bates and Andy Powers (from left) gathered Aug. 23 at the Chapel Hill-area property proposed for a new Lake Stevens Library. The get-together was the day after Charvet Bates presented a unanimous letter of support for the proposed project from the library board to the Lake Stevens City Council. The Friends of the Lake Stevens Library group has also presented a similar letter of support to the city council.

What's happening now?

Voters within the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area will see a bond measure on the Feb. 13, 2018, ballot. The proposed bond is for not more than $17 million. If the measure passes, the funds would build and furnish a new, larger library on property near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place in the Chapel Hill area.

  • Dec. 4, 2017 
    The Snohomish County Council approves Motion 17-385 putting a bond measure on the Feb. 13, 2018, ballot.
  • Oct. 23, 2017
    Library-district trustees unanimously approved Resolution 17-03 requesting that a bond measure be on the Feb. 13, 2018 ballot. The requested bond is for not more than $17 million. If approved, the funds would build and furnish a new, larger library on property near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place in the Chapel Hill area.
  • Oct. 24, 2017
    The Lake Stevens City Council unanimously approved Resolution 2017-17, a companion resolution to the one approved by the library-district trustees on Oct. 23.
  • Oct. 25, 2017
    The Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA) governing body received the library-district and city resolutions and unanimously approved sending the requests on to the Snohomish County Council.
  • Next
    Library-district and county officials prepare information related to the Feb. 13, 2018, ballot.


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

What happened in February, 2017?

The Feb. 14, 2017 election included 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 passed and created the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area. 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 was a bond measure to pay for 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 had to say “yes.” Proposition 2 got a 66 percent approval, 5,096 "yes" votes to 2,619 "no" votes. BUT, turnout fell short by 749 voters. So, Proposition 2 got enough “yes” votes, but not enough total voters so it didn’t pass.

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 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.

What are the LCFA boundaries?

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

Why does Lake Stevens need a new library?

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

How much does the existing Lake Stevens 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.

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.

How much would a new library cost?

The bond measure proposed for the Feb. 13 , 2018 ballot is for up to $17 million. Costs related to a new Lake Stevens Library depend on the size and amenities of a new facility.

How much would I pay?

If approved by voters, the projected assessment for properties within the LCFA would be 21.5 cents for each $1,000 of assessed value. That means the owner of a $350,000 home within the LCFA would pay about $73.85 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 real estate 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.

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

The 2008 vote was about 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 a new library is built with funding from voter-approved bonds, the new library facility owned by the library district on property owned by the district.

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 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. In 2017, the rate is 41.5 cents 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.

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 41.5 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.

  • 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.

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.
  • Use wi-fi at library buildings

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.


Sno-Isle Libraries: Connecting people, ideas and culture