A narrow vote against the Birch Bay library in the November 2 election brought supporters back to the drawing board, this time placing the ballot measure in a special election on February 8, 2022.
Proposition 2021-14, intended to fund construction of the future Birch Bay Vogt Community Library through a Birch Bay library capital facility area tax (LCFA), didn’t receive enough votes in the November election. To pass, the LCFA needed to be voted on by 40 percent of voters from the November 2020 election and needed a 60-percent supermajority; it received 59.3 percent in support.
The library only needed 26 more votes to pass, according to a Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) statement. It reached the 40 percent threshold of November 2020 voters. For the February election, it will need 40 percent of voters in this year’s November election as well as a supermajority in favor.
The capital facility area would raise taxes by 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Property owners of a $350,000 home would pay $38 annually, according to WCLS.
If the ballot measure isn’t passed in February, WCLS says it’s at risk of losing a $2 million state appropriation it received in 2019 for the expected $6.5 million building. WCLS received an extension through the state’s 2021-23 budget after the appropriation was slated to expire last June.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Friends of Birch Bay Library (FOBBL), a grassroots group supporting construction of the Birch Bay Drive property, waved signs in support of Proposition 14 along busy Birch Bay and Blaine streets.
“This is a huge thing for our community,” FOBBL president Dianne Marrs-Smith said. “We’re super close. We need everyone who’s supporting the library to show up in February and vote.”
FOBBL is planning upcoming events to encourage community support from a book and bake sale on December 11 and December 15, providing information to people at the Ring of Fire and Polar Bear Plunge, and canvassing and sign-waving starting mid-January. Marrs-Smith will also be outside of the Birch Bay bookmobile 3-6 p.m. every Wednesday to answer questions.
FOBBL volunteers are asking anyone who would like to get involved in supporting the library to contact friendsofbirchbaylibrary.org and email Marrs-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WCLS is looking for voters to prepare ‘for’ and ‘against’ statements on the ballot measure for the voters’ pamphlet. Those interested should contact Ruth Nail at email@example.com or 360/305-3641 by Friday, December 3.
The Birch Bay library is the first LCFA that WCLS has pursued to fund a library, WCLS executive director Christine Perkins previously told The Northern Light. Property taxes would fund the library construction, but WCLS would still need to pay for staffing and library material expenses.
If passed in the February 2022 election, WCLS expects the Birch Bay library could open as soon as 2023.
“Community members tell us they believe the measure can pass, and they want to push forward,” Perkins said in a statement. “With the support of voters, we can build a modern library for Birch Bay that provides services the community wants and needs, but everyone must turn out to vote.”
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