Advocates of library  district discuss travel

Participants in the Payette County Library Project, meeting inside the Portia Club in Payette on July 13, discuss a strategy of holding future meetings in various parts of the county.

A small but increasingly resolute group pursuing the formation of a library district in Payette County met July 13 to begin reviewing mission and vision statements of existing library districts, looking for ideas to incorporate locally.

In addition to working on the organizational statements, members of the Payette County Library Project discussed different possible scenarios in local taxation and informally agreed on a plan to hold the group’s meetings in various locations around the county. Members also talked about conducting polls and the possibility of compressing the timeline for getting the district formation question onto a public ballot. Currently the project stretches over two years.

Steven Cook, one of the group’s members, distributed copies of the county tax statement for his own property. He had added an arrow pointing to the “Total Taxable” amount on the county form, and had provided instructions to multiply the amount in that location by 0.0006 to find the maximum amount that a library district could receive from a particular property.

Cook, a Payette resident, also pointed out that a library district taxing at its allowable maximum rate would still be taking fewer Payette landowner tax dollars than the City of Payette currently takes to run the city-owned library.

He also directed the group’s attention, however, to one of the questions on a sheet of “frequently asked questions” that was developed several years ago.

The question: “Will the City [of Payette] stop taxing residents the roughly $200,000 that they’re currently taxing for the City library?”

Answer: “That’s completely up to the City Council. Even if they stop funding a library, they could still choose to tax you that same amount (0.1% of your property value) and put the money towards something else of their choosing. This wouldn’t be very nice of them, but it would be well within their right.”

The July 13 meeting was held at the Portia Club in Payette. Two other locations were used for previous meetings. Kevin Tomlinson, a library consultant from the Idaho Commission for Libraries who has been traveling from Boise to attend the meetings and offer immediate informational support, has suggested that the group settle on a single location. He didn’t attend the July 13 gathering.

Cook made the case July 13 for holding the group’s meetings in various communities where the group is hoping to garner support for the project.

“Just to be noticed and to seem like we are representing the entire county, we should be mobile,” Cook said.

Fruitland resident Christine Mendoza was one of several members July 13 who said they agreed.

“I like consistency, but I like the statement more,” Mendoza said, alluding to a comparison between the consistency of a single meeting place and a statement of interest in all communities.

Pat Otte, a volunteer for Fruitland Community Library, the only library in the county operating without tax support, said feedback she has received through her informal surveying conducted at the Fruitland library has been overwhelmingly positive on the district question.

“Everybody I talk to says, ‘When is this district going to happen?’” Otte said.

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