All eyes are focused on the presidential race, but it’s important not to overlook state and local races. States, counties and cities all over the country are considering ballot initiatives that will affect public and school library funding and services.
Some of the ballot measures directly address library funding. Others may deal with state and local revenue streams, which ultimately affect libraries and schools.
Measure 3-310, Clackamas County, Oregon: On the ballot is a proposal to create a new tax district specifically for libraries. Currently, libraries compete with law enforcement, road maintenance, and other services for money held in a general fund; if passed, the proposal would create a library-specific allocation of money.
Question 1, Massachusetts: This ballot initiative would eliminate state personal income tax starting in January 2010. Opponents of the measure say that passage would cut 40% of the state’s operating budget and drastically impact funding for many public institutions, including public schools and, by extension, school libraries.
Mill Levy Election, Douglas County, CO: Douglas County is asking voters to approve a mill levy that would allow them to build new libraries and renovate existing libraries.
Issue 127, Cuyahoga County, OH: Voters are being asked to vote on a mill replacement/increase that would support collection funding, increase open library hours, and maintain library services.
Obviously, this is only a sampling of ballot issues being considered around the country. It’s worth looking closely at any and all tax and levy issues, as library funding comes from many sources.