Ashland library supporters celebrate victory

County Results Sept. 18, 2007 10:51 p.m. — — — —

15-79 LOCAL OPTION TAX FOR ASHLAND LIBRARY ASHLAND CITY —

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Yes . . . . — 5,320 ...........74.52% —

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No . . . . . — 1,819 ...........25.48%

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Total . . . — 7,139 — —

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Over Votes . . . . . . . . . — 0 —

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Under Votes . . . . . . . . — 7

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Jubilant Ashland Library backers say doors should open in late October — Nov. — at the latest — after nearly three-fourths of voters Tuesday night approved a property tax levy to operate the library up to 40 hours a week.



Champagne corks popped at Standing Stone Brewery, as backers toasted not only the 53 percent turnout — a comfortable margin over the required 50 percent for revenue measures — but the overwhelming 74.6 percent who voted in favor of the levy.



Unofficial results from the election show 4,919 yes votes to 1,672 no votes (25.4 percent).



The landslide victory came after some Ashlanders expressed doubts because the measure allowed a levy of 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, much more than was needed after Jackson County officials belatedly unveiled a proposed deal to privatize the county's libraries and pick up most of the tab. Jackson County's libraries closed on April 6 after Congress failed to renew the Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, which pumped $23 million into county coffers annually.



"It says Ashland voters are unwavering in their support of unfettered access to public libraries — and a few people's vocal distrust proved not to be a widespread belief," said Pam Vavra, co-chairwoman of the Committee to Open Ashland Library.

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Ashland Library supporters from left to right, Perii Hauschild-Owen, Pam Vavra and Pauline Black celebrate on Tuesday after hearing results of the vote to reopen the Ashland Public Library.

— — Photos by Thom Larkin | For the Tidings

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Library activist and former library officer Anne Billeter was ecstatic. "It validates the value Ashland places on its library and the need for the elderly to have books," she said.



Former Ashland teen librarian John Sexton said the victory — as well as the countywide defeats of library levies last May and November — "is personal; that's why the vote is so huge. Libraries are built on personal relationships."



Like scores of other employees laid off last spring because of library closures, Sexton said he would like his post back but has no indication from Library Systems and Services (LSSI), a Maryland company, whether he will be rehired or what the pay would be.

— — — — What happens now? — — — —

County Administrator Danny Jordan addressed the questions pertaining to the LSSI operations of county libraries, including Ashland's library with fulltime hours.

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The Ashland City Council recently voted to keep the levy at 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the rest of this fiscal year and 25 cents per $1,000 for the second year, provided the county contract with LSSI holds up.



That amount, plus the county contribution, will keep the Ashland library going 40 hours a week. The county proposal alone would have funded 24 hours a week.



After the two years, library supporters hope to have a countywide library district in place, with the power to fund all libraries.



Former librarian Ann Magill said, "I'm very pleased that Ashland came through. We led the way."



Billeter said technology is the main obstacle to getting the libraries open, with Qwest needing six weeks to get phone service up.



"I'm thrilled as a community member," said Ashland resident Cynthia Meilicke. "I was shaken by the country response (closing all libraries after the federal government cut off timber receipts last spring) and didn't know if I wanted to live here."



Florence Thomso, another resident, said, "It's great Ashland could step up to support its library."



Vavra noted that the Ashland City Council's actions early on were "a visionary response to the May vote (against library funding). Mayor (John) Morrison put it well — that nothing short of a full-service library was acceptable."

— is a freelance writer living in Ashland.







The Ashland Library Levy voter turnout nearly 53 percent



6:26 p.m. Sept. 18, 2007



As of 5:54 p.m. today the county report showed a turnout of 52.9 percent of Ashland voters for Measure 15-79. The updated numbers were 6,598 out of 12,463 registered voters.





5:06 p.m. Sept. 18, 2007



As of 3:41 p.m. today the county report showed a turnout of 52.9 percent of Ashland voters for Measure 15-79. The adjusted numbers were 6,591 out of 12,466 registered voters.





2:20 p.m. Sept. 18, 2007



The Jackson County Election Supervisor Donna Connor updated the county's election posting on its Web site at 1:36 p.m. today. The new results show participation in the Measure 15-79 vote is 51.2 percent. The total number of accepted ballots is 6,378 of 12,469 registered voters in Ashland.





8 a.m. Sept. 18, 2007



The Ashland library levy is close to reaching the first benchmark it needs in order to win approval. As of Monday at 4:15 p.m. 47 percent of registered Ashland voters had voted. The tax levy needs 50 percent of registered voters to participate in order to move forward.



This morning Jackson County Elections Supervisor Donna Connor said that given the rate of current voting she expects the total to top 50 percent, but she will not know until after the mail arrives today and the drop pickups are tallied.



"There's been just under 200 a day in the drop boxes," Connor said. "Yesterday we got 350 in one box. There's probably a good chance it will pop over."



The mail is expected to arrive this morning around 11 a.m. with tallies nearing completion between 12:30 to — p.m.



An update on the Jackson County Web site is due shortly thereafter, which will also repeat on the Daily Tidings Web site.



The county expects the results from the drop box votes tallied later this afternoon around 3:30 p.m. and the unofficial results posted shortly thereafter.



On Tuesday night, starting at 8 p.m., Jackson County elections office will posting an official tally to see if the measure will pass. Results will be posted on www.DailyTidings.com Wednesday morning. — — — — Measure

15-79 City of Ashland — — — —

CAPTION: Local Option Tax Levy Interim Funding for Ashland Public Library

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QUESTION: Shall Ashland levy up to $.58 per $1,000 assessed value for two years beginning July 1, 2007 for library operations?

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SUMMARY: This measure may be passed only at an election with at least a 50 percent voter turnout. (Required language per ORS 250.036 and not counted towards overall word count.) This tax levy is an interim funding solution to operate the Ashland branch public library for no more than two years.

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Up to .58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value may be levied if this measure passes. This levy is expected to generate $1.032 million annually. The average assessed value for a single family home in Ashland is approximately $207,000, and this household would pay $120 per year if this measure passes.

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Funds generated under this levy will only be used to provide library services. The City will not levy this tax if Jackson County provides funding for adequate library services.

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To open the Ashland library, the City of Ashland and Jackson County must negotiate and approve an intergovernmental agreement.

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Library services in Ashland will include the following, at a minimum:

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40 open hours per week with professional staff.

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Existing public terminals for internet access.

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Newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

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Access to materials currently in the Ashland library.

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400 new books per year.

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Children’s programs and reference services.

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