Library hours cut, despite tax passage
Newest levy won't generate the same revenue
May 24, 2012
By Steve Law, The Portland Tribune
Starting July 1, Multnomah County libraries will be closed Mondays and will reduce their operating hours other days.
The service reductions may confuse or anger some voters – who overwhelming renewed the library system's operating levy on May 15 – but they shouldn't come as a surprise.
The reductions were much-discussed when county commissioners opted to play it safe and put a renewed levy before voters at the same tax rate as the five-year levy that expires June 30.
The new three-year levy, at the same rate of 89 cents for every $1,000 in assessed value, doesn't raise as much money as in past years, because Oregon tax-limitation initiatives do not allow the county to collect the full amount of the authorized levy. Nor does the levy keep pace with inflation, including the rising costs of employee salaries, benefits, gasoline, utilities and other expenses, as well as the added cost of new branches opened since the original levy was framed.
To soften the blow from the cutbacks, County Chair Jeff Cogen proposes to put $10 million in one-time money into next year's library budget, but that's not enough to prevent the reduced library hours.
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