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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 1, 2012 at 6:10 AM

Wednesday briefing: Library funding woes in Portland area, too; library levy chat today

Good Morning,

Multnomah County Library’s Hillsdale branch,
southwest Portland
Source: Multnomah County

Around the Northwest, Seattle is not the only place grappling with the nettlesome question of how to pay for libraries. Multnomah County, including Portland, is discussing a new library taxing district to pay for — you guessed it — library operations.   The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meets Thursday to vote on a new taxing district. Voters could be asked in November to raise property taxes to support the district. The issue in Portland is a bit different. Due to some taxing rules, approval of a library district would zap money from other public goodies, for example, the Portland’s Children’s Levy. Read about it here.  The argument for the new taxing district, however, is that it would provide more stable funding than the current levy, which is held at a certain rate. In the Portland metro area, the county, not the city, pays for library operations.

Speaking of libraries and taxing,  join us at noon today on the Politics Northwest blog for a live chat on the Seattle Library levy. The $123 million seven-year levy is touted as a measure that would restore service hours, rebuild collections and maintain buildings neglected during low budget years. Submit your questions for Marcellus Turner, city librarian, and Chris Leman, levy opponent, to or

This is the first year of the new early August primary, as opposed to the mid-August primary. That’s right smack in the middle of summer when many people are thinking about everything but elections. So completed ballots, thus far, are not exactly flooding in.  The Spokane Spokesman-Review has an update from that side of the state. Secretary of State Sam Reed projected 46 percent turnout statewide, compared to 43 percent for a normal presidential primary. And he’s sticking to it.

   Here is the latest from Reed spokesman Dave Ammons:

   Sam isn’t changing the prediction based on scattered reports of sluggish turnout in some counties thus far. We came up with the 46 percent forecast based not on ballot returns, but on the historic average for a presidential year primary (43 percent), and bumping that a bit to reflect the general voter engagement in all of this fall’s election choices.  We actually hope it’s higher than 46 percent.  To have more than half the voters sitting out the primary isn’t a happy thought for anyone who believes in self-government.



Comments | More in homepage, Live chats, Politics Northwest, Seattle City Council | Topics: august primary, library taxing district, live chat


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