Group wants vote on library

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— The independent coalition that is trying to resolve the dispute between the city and Rural Library District has officially asked the city to let its citizens settle the matter with a vote on annexation into the Walla Walla County Rural Library Taxing District.

A July 31 Library User Coalition letter to the city’s mayor and Council members stated the coalition has “concluded that the citizens of the City of Walla Walla and Walla Walla County would be best served by the consolidation of the city and county library services through annexation ...”

The letter goes on to ask city officials to address annexation at the next Council meeting and move forward with a resolution and vote.

What the letter doesn’t point out is that if approved, joining the taxing district could increase property taxes as much as 50 cents per thousand of assessed value.

On Wednesday, City Council will discuss the letter at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave.

Even if City Council moves forward with the move, a resolution couldn’t go before voters until February, and there’s a chance it might never be approved by overseeing agencies.

Walla Walla County Auditor Karen Martin explained that the deadline for her office to receive a resolution for the November general election is Aug. 7 and that it is unlikely it could be drafted by then.

She also pointed out that the resolution would require approval by the city’s library board and the board of the Rural Library District.

Walla Walla Country Rural Library District Director Aletha Bonebrake noted that a working group made up of city and Rural Library District officials has already determined that annexation would not benefit either agency, and that the city and Rural Library District are now working on strategic plans that do not include financial contracts between the entities.

“This issue was thoroughly vetted in the Library Working Group and their conclusions were reported out to and formally accepted by the respective jurisdictions in the matter,” Bonebrake wrote in an email.

Starting next year, the city and Rural Library District are expected to end three decades of working together to provide library services to county residents.

The Rural Library District is currently looking at opening its own $3.6 million branch in Walla Walla to serve county residents, but that branch will not be open before the end of the year.

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