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Library board delays second levy try

Polling and public meetings will be held as cutbacks loom.

The Kitsap Regional Library board has decided against asking voters for additional funding this year, in the wake of the library levy defeat in May.

“We thought about going on to the November ballot,” said KRL Director Jill Jean of Bainbridge Island, “but we needed more time to talk to the public about the value of libraries and what people want to see in their libraries.”

Said KRL Board of Trustees President Jackie Aitchison, “We really want to take the opportunity to interact with the public about what’s important to them. We want to do a thorough job of this and gather all the information before we made any decision.

“Getting on the November ballot did not allow us enough time to do this.”

Aitchison said she could not say when KRL would again go before the voters. The system first will schedule community meetings and public forums to gather information.

The group Kitsap Library Advocates recently funded a survey of 500 residents selected at random, commissioning the Metropolitan Group of Portland, Ore., to conduct the polling.

The results of the poll are not yet available and will be used in the future, Aitchison said.

The last proposal – a levy “lid lift” that would have added about $18 per $100,000 valuation to local property tax bills, and boosted KRL tax revenues from $8.8 million in 2007 to $15.4 million next year – was soundly defeated.

The library system now faces an estimated $2 million shortfall, and must implement cost-cutting measures.

To go back to voters this year, a new measure would have to be drafted and submitted to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office by Aug. 14, a deadline library officials say they couldn’t meet.

“I’m glad they’re willing to step back and take a look at the whole issue,” said Lois Andrus, a Bainbridge Island resident who was contacted during the recent polling. “My view is that going out now to get the money needed for the next couple of years was the wrong way to go. They need to find alternate ways to fund the libraries, and perhaps go to the Legislature.

“Libraries are quite different than what they used to be.”

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