The Kahlotus library might be able to move from its 90-year-old building if voters approve a measure on the November ballot.
The 300-square-foot library started life as the scale house for the town’s grain elevator. The little cottage was sold to the city for $1 by the Connell Grain Growers, getting a second life as a library in 1989.
If voters agree that the city of Kahlotus should be annexed into the Mid-Columbia Library District, the Kahlotus branch could be moved into a larger space, according to a fact sheet posted by the library district.
Supporters say joining the district would ensure long-term stability and funding for library services. The closest other library to the town is in Connell, a 32-mile round-trip drive for Kahlotus residents.
The tiny library houses a collection of books, magazines and other materials, and it offers electronic books and computer use. But it also serves as a site where area residents can access the entire Mid-Columbia Libraries collection by requesting books, DVDs and other material be sent to Kahlotus for check out there.
Now, Kahlotus contracts with the Mid-Columbia Library District for library services. It pays a fee calculated to be equivalent to what other residents of the districts now pay in property taxes — 37 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.
If annexed, property owners would pay the levy to the district directly. It would show up as a new line item on Kahlotus property tax bills.
State law caps the amount a library district may levy at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The city would still pay for maintenance costs related to the library building.
Approving the measure would eliminate the time and expense of contract negotiations between the library district and the city. It also would mean that library operations would not be in competition with other necessary city services, according to the fact sheet.
If city voters change their minds, the annexation could be reversed in a special election initiated by the city council, but not for at least three years after the annexation is approved.
The Nov. 8 vote requires majority approval to pass. The annexation would take effect at the start of 2018.