Candidates challenged by library levy, district
Funding issues may put city's next mayor in a budget bind
Most everybody likes libraries, but do they want to pay for them?
Multnomah County voters may vote twice this year on library property taxes, so when the three contenders for Portland mayor appeared before the Portland Tribune editorial board, they were grilled on how they felt about the library levy and a possible library taxing district.
At first glance it might seem a minor or irrelevant issue, since the mayor has no say on the county-run library system. But answers by Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith provide a textbook case on their approach to City Hall spending, and how they'd address tense relations with Multnomah County leaders.
First, a little background. Short-term property tax levies have kept the popular county library system afloat since 1976, and the latest levy expires June 30 unless voters extend it at the May 15 primary. If that three-year levy renewal passes, Multnomah County commissioners likely will ask voters in November to authorize a library district, which would bring permanent, stable property taxes to the libraries and end decades of shaky temporary funding.
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