Library extension measure will be on May 2014 ballot

A proposal intended to create a special tax district to fund Jackson County libraries will go on the May 2014 ballot.

Jackson County's Board of Commissioners gave the measure a green light at a weekly public meeting this morning. District proponents packed the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, with 16 speakers taking to the microphone during a final public hearing on the measure. Of that number 15 spoke in favor of creating the district.

"You're going to have a lot of work in front of you," Commissioner Chair Don Skundrick said to library supporters.

If approved by voters, the district would create a property tax up to 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That's an average of $92.53 annually for the average Jackson County homeowner, based on 2013 data.

At the maximum rate, that would bring in $9.97 million in the first year, an amount that exceeds the libraries' current budget of $6.2 million.

Most of that $6.2 million comes from the county's general fund, which has taken several hits in recent years from continually declining timber revenues. During April 2013 budget hearings, county officials said that 14 of the 15 library branches — all but Medford's — would close during the 2014-15 fiscal year unless alternative funding sources could be found. The Medford library would close in 2015-16 if that continued. Library supporters came up with the district as a possibility.

— Ryan Pfeil

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