Video recording of the meeting and levy text: https://www.eugene-or.gov/3360/Webcasts-and-Meeting-Materials
Register-Guard article: https://www.registerguard.com/news/20200729/eugene-library-levy-renewal-to-appear-on-november-ballot
Eugene library levy renewal to appear on November ballot
By Jordyn Brown
Print edition: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Eugene residents will see at least one local measure on their ballots this election season after a Eugene City Council decision this week.
During Monday’s work session, the council agreed on a 6-2 vote to ask voters to renew the Eugene library’s local option levy to maintain services.
The current levy was approved for five years and expires in 2021. It has a tax rate of 0.17, meaning a homeowner pays 17 cents of tax per year for every $1,000 of property value. The average tax rate per home is $36 per year. The levy total is $2.7 million.
Should voters approve the renewal, it would mean a slight increase to $37 of tax per year on the typical home. Under this option, the tax rate would actually decrease from 0.17 to 0.15, but would bring in about $2.85 million.
The other option up for council’s consideration was to keep the current tax rate of 0.17, which would increase the tax per home per year to an average of $42, and the total levy amount to $3.18 million.
This option was pitched as a way to maintain current services and add more services, such as mobile book trailers, increasing access to internet hot spots and technology, and programs around “employment, technology and personal skills development targeting underserved populations,” such as the homeless community, according to council documents.
Before the vote, council members shared thoughts about which option would be the best investment in the community, especially at a time of economic uncertainty.
“I think we need to put the services that the library offers, which are very, very important, in context with the other services that are going to have to have massive cuts as we go along — if not this year then next, certainly,” Councilor Mike Clark said. “I really hope we don’t go out with the full bells and whistles here while the rest of the ship is taking on water.”
In the end, all but two councilors were in favor of the first option to just maintain services. Councilors Alan Zelenka and Claire Syrett opposed.
“We understand this is a very economically challenging time and there are going to be hard times ahead,” said Reed Davaz McGowan, executive director of Eugene Public Library Foundation. “I am personally pleased that City Council is moving forward with this, knowing the library services are going to be even more critical.”