Funding sources

Limits on Library Funding

State law limits the amount that library funding can increase annually. Levy funding for the library does not match increases in property values within the library district. As property values increase, the library levy rate falls. As property values fall, the library levy rate increases up to a maximum of 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value.

Because of this, voters are periodically asked to consider an increase in the library levy rate. A levy rate increase request must be approved by a simple majority of voters within the library district in Snohomish and Island counties to take effect. If approved, the levy increase is implemented the following year. This results in funding which sustains the level of library services provided. If rejected, Sno-Isle Libraries must make corresponding reductions in service.

Funding for Library Operations

Sno-Isle Libraries operations and maintenance levy affects all properties in the unincorporated areas of Snohomish and Island counties. Property owners within cities also have a line item on their annual property tax statement for Sno-Isle Libraries.

The library operations levy is collected by county treasurers in Snohomish and Island counties and funds are transferred to Sno-Isle Libraries.

The Library receives about 98 percent of its funding for daily operations and maintenance from the general library levy. The remaining 2 percent comes from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Reassessed value of property where new construction has occurred
  • Timber sales tax
  • Leasehold excise tax
  • Contract fees
  • Donations and grants
  • Investment interest

Financial Management

Every year, the State Auditor's Office conducts an audit of Sno-Isle Libraries financial practices. Clean audits have been received for the past 31 years.

In 2009, Sno-Isle Libraries committed that it would manage a voter-approved increase effectively and not return to voters for additional funding for at least 5 years. The Library has used a combination of careful financial management and efficiency-seeking continuous improvement processes to make available funding last for 9 years before returning to voters.

Sno-Isle Libraries is making a similar commitment to not return to voters for at least 5 years, if voters approve the April 2018 request for additional funding.

Funding for Library Capital

The April 2018 library levy request is not intended for building projects.New or substantially renovated libraries are funded through separate community voter-approved bond elections. Funds for library bonds are earmarked for specific projects and cannot be used for ongoing operations and maintenance purposes. Once the bonds are paid off, the bond levy and bond assessment end.

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library,
this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.
- Andrew Carnegie