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Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

This writer knows that you share my love of reading and an appreciation for our great public libraries throughout the Timberland Regional Library (TRL) system. TRL needs our help!

On February 3rd, voters will be given an opportunity to show their support of public libraries. The Timberland Regional Library system is asking voters to approve a ballot proposition to restore funding to TRL, so the quality library services they provide can be continued. Ballots went into the mail on Friday, January 16th.

Won’t you join me in voting to support our public libraries and this valuable public resource for our area. Throughout the country, public libraries are closing. Lets not let that happen in here.

Then postmark by February 3rd or drop in the secure Voter’s Drop Box in the parking lot directly across from the Yelm Community Schools district office on First St. in Yelm by 5pm February 3rd.

“Residents in the Timberland Regional Library Districts five-county service area will vote next February 3 on a proposal to restore the systems property tax levy from the projected 2009 rate of 34.5 cents per $1000 of assessed valuation to the constitutionally-allowed level of 50 cents. It marks the first time in its 40-year history that Timberland has sought voter approval for a tax increase to maintain current levels of service to residents within Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Mason and Pacific Counties.

A combination of steadily-reducing rates of property tax collection and sharply-declining timber tax revenues has caused the Timberland system to spend down its cash reserves to avoid cutting back library services to rural areas and cities within the district. Property tax assessments are limited by voter-approved Washington State law, while timber revenues have fallen due to both economic conditions and mandated harvest restrictions.

Timberland Trustees this year made major reductions in the 2008 and 2009 budgets by instituting a hiring freeze, eliminating Sunday operating hours, reducing other personnel costs and slashing funds for the acquisition of new library materials. Despite these actions, the district will consume its cash reserves by the end of 2009.

Without authority to lift the lid on property tax assessments, service levels will need to be drastically cut either late that year or beginning in 2010. Budget reductions could impact staffing, hours of operation, core programs, reference services, collection development, and the ability to respond to changes in technology.”

“Library use jumps in Seattle area; economy likely reason”
This Seattle Times headline says it all on why supporting TRL is so critical now!

“Voters should OK more funds for libraries”
This January 15th Olympian Op-Ed piece is well-researched and echoes this writer’s views.

Mayor Harding finally speaks to Yelm Library’s future
This front page story from the January 16th edition of the NVN quotes Mayor Harding about the future of Yelm’s Library beyond the current facility’s 2012 lease expiration:
“‘As we look toward the future we may need to sacrifice some of the current library facility amenities to continue to provide library services to our citizenry.’

Last year, the most promising option was to move the library into the current City Hall building.

Harding said that appears to be the most viable option given the location and cost.

‘There would be no additional monetary cost to the taxpayers.’

[Ed. Note: We finally have the Mayor giving us citizenry a direction in the future for a greatly reduced-in-size Yelm Library.
That is probably wise in this economic environment and given this city’s officials have done little to nothing in almost a decade about a securing a public facility beyond the generous TRL exemption to operate in a privately rented building until 2012. Mayor Harding has barely said anything about the Yelm Library’s future the last three years he has been in-office and little to nothing since the 10 year lease in a private building began in 2002, just after he joined the City Council.
I would guess going back into a City Hall set-up is consistent with TRL’s leaner budgeting, too.]

This writer asked TRL Administrative Services Manage Michael Crose,
“While a vote in favor of a levy will maintain the current level of services throughout the 5-county system we would hope (at least through 2012 in Yelm), what can I tell Yelm Community Blog readers who say we’ll be getting alot less and paying alot more here, now that the Mayor is prepping the public for a much smaller facility sacrificing some “amenities”?”

Mr. Crose responded,”
“Thanks for asking the question. As you probably are aware, we are continuing to discuss options for the City of Yelm. The City Hall building was viewed as a possible location. I believe that from TRL’s perspective that City Hall would be OK as a temporary fix. We will continue to explore other possibilities. Our preference, of course, would be for a more substantial facility.

You are correct that we are all swamped with details relative to the Feb. 3 levy. The outcome of that ballot measure will determine in some part how flexible the District can be regarding the development of new, or remodeled facilities. Once we get past that date, “Yelm 2012″ will hit my front burner. Regardless of the eventual location, size or shape of the building, we are committed to providing the best possible service to Yelm and the rest of the District.”


Posted by Steve on January 19, 2009 at 5:59 am | Permalink

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