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Fern Ridge Library: Yes.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The Fern Ridge Library has spent the last two years exploring the varieties of frustration that elections can bring. In 2002, a proposal to renew the library district's operating levy failed by 28 votes out of 3,756 cast. Last year, the levy passed by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 - but fewer than 50 percent of the district's voters cast ballots, so victory turned to failure. It's time for voters to break this unhappy streak and give the library the support it needs.

The library is a source of pride among the people it serves, and justly so. It was built entirely with donated money and volunteer labor, leaving the district debt-free. Lane County has the state's highest percentage of people who lack library service, but people in the Fern Ridge district are not among them.

Measure 20-101 on the Nov. 2 ballot would renew a local-option levy to support library operations. A levy was first approved when the library district separated from the Fern Ridge School District in 1998. The school and library districts are still contiguous, serving the communities of Elmira, Noti, Veneta and Walton. The district's initial levy expired last June. Without a renewed levy, the library expects to cut its hours of operation by as much as half, while also scaling back all other expenses.

The levy would increase property taxes by as much as 25 cents per $1,000 of property value (the increase for some property owners might be less, because of the way local option levies are calculated). The money would not only allow the library to avoid cuts, but would also pay to restore earlier cuts in hours of operation and increase the budget for book purchases.

Last year, 1,849 people supported the proposed levy and 723 opposed it. The levy failed because of the double majority requirement: Property tax increases can't be approved in elections with a voter turnout of 50 percent. The district needed 2,911 voters to cast their ballots, but fell 339 short of that threshold. If an additional 340 voters had participated, the levy would have passed - even if every one of them had voted no.

The double majority requirement does not apply in general elections like the one scheduled for Nov. 2. A low turnout can't kill the library levy this time - but it still needs a majority of the vote.

Voters in the Fern Ridge Library District should mark their ballots in favor of Measure 20-101.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Voters' earlier support was thwarted
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 25, 2004
Next Article:Creswell library: Yes.

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