Letters to the Editor

KRL needs more user help, not tax levies | Letters | Nov. 12

Let us take a look at the numbers.

Kitsap County has 143,796 registered voters and 47 percent (69,070) took part in the recent ballot.

Regarding the library levy, 38,430 voted “no” (19.6 percent of the registered voters) and 28,123 voted “yes (29.6 percent). Consider that 28,123 supporters is not an insignificant support group to start with.

More important, there are presently 191,286 KRL card members.

In comparison, the KRL Foundation – according to Executive Director Peter Raffa – has “only” 1,800 active members who contribute an average gift of $63.

KRL Foundation has raised $113,000 in 2009 and $265,000 in 2010 (including a $120,000 bequest and a recent $25,000 gift from the Walmart Foundation).

People love their libraries. If each of the 191,286 card members was to contribute voluntarily $1 per month that would raise almost $2.3 million annually.

The challenge, as I see it, is to go from the present 1,800 members of the KRL Foundation to a much broader membership even if the average contribution is lower.

Our local public radio station KUOW raises a significant part of its operating budget via pledge drives and the support of part of its listeners.

They decided years ago to raise money directly from the public when their tax support became insufficient. KRL is in the same situation (since 2007).

I believe that if each library card member was aware and was reminded regularly that an annual $12 contribution would be a big help, the number of active supporters would grow dramatically.

Plus, a voluntary contribution to the KRL Foundation may be tax deductible, so it is really the complete opposite approach: from paying a tax to making a tax deductible donation.

The lesson I derive from the recent ballot (and the previous one in 2007) is that there is no majority support for an increase of the property tax for KRL. That does not mean there is no support for the libraries.

I hope the leaders of the Kitsap Regional Library and the KRL Foundation consider this KUOW-like fundraising strategy.

Philippe Boucher

Bainbridge Island

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