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Council takes up question of library taxing district

'The hardest part is defining the boundaries of the district'

Grangeville City Hall

Grangeville City Hall

— Should Grangeville Centennial Library break off from the city and form its own tax-supported district? Is there interest? Who would head the effort?

Last Monday, Aug. 20, the Grangeville City Council discussed the issue that has been in the air the past several years for both this body, as well as by the Grangeville Centennial Library board itself. The process of district formation, as well as the merits, were discussed, and councilor Amy Farris will raise the issue with the GCL board at its Sept. 20 meeting.

“Part of question tonight is, does the council want to take this on, do we want the library to take this on? Do we want Amy to talk to the library board to see if they’re even interested in this?” said mayor Wes Lester.

The city library, located in the city hall building, is supported through the general fund, which for this year totals $110,200 for such expenses as salaries, books, equipment and services. The proposed 2019 fiscal budget would decrease funding by less than 1 percent for a total $109,301.

Outlining the district forming process, city attorney Adam Green said someone would take the lead to prepare a petition that would define the proposed boundaries for taxation. This would then be submitted to the Idaho County Commission, which would decide on placing the question on the ballot.

A similar effort was recently completed with the commission in early August. The Ridge Runner Fire Department petitioned to form a tax-funded district, and the commission approved this to be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“It’s not really that complicated,” he said, of the process. “The hardest part is defining the boundaries of the district.”

Making that easier would be using existing taxing boundaries, such as of a school or cemetery district, Green explained, with mayor Lester adding that developing these independent of that would require contracting a survey to determine those lines. Using already defined boundaries, such as the school district, “would probably be the easiest to follow,” Green continued, as the county is familiar with these and to which ballots the vote would be added.

“They say they want more room. We don’t have the room to give them,” said councilor Beryl Grant, on one of the ongoing issues for the library; space for its collection and offered programs. That and the possibility of funding above that currently provided by the city were possible advantages to GCL for a library district.

“I think it’s worth looking into,” Grant said.

“They have two years to work this out,” said councilor Mike Peterson, as it would be too late for this year’s ballot, with the next county elections in 2020.

Council discussion included questions on what this would mean to city taxpayers, what residents within the taxing district would pay, and what area this would encompass. Lester commented that much of this is undetermined until the district is formed and their budget is proposed. For the city, pulling the library from its tax rolls would not result in decreased taxes, he said, but rather the existing general fund monies would be redistributed to the remainder, for example, police and streets.


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