Sno-Isle Libraries operations levy behind in initial returns

The operations levy for Sno-Isle Libraries was trailing in early returns released Tuesday by the Snohomish County Elections Office. The measure was passing comfortably in Island County — 61 percent to 31 percent — but failing in Snohomish County, with 47 percent voting yes and 53 percent no.

“Right now, the vote count is just too close,” Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director, said Tuesday night. “We want to be cautious and wait for all ballots to be counted before assuming the measure passes or fails.”

Overall, no votes in Snohomish and Island counties — at 51,507 or 50.38 percent — were slightly ahead of yes votes, which on Tuesday were 50,725 or 49.62 percent.

The ballot measure called for adding 9 cents to current library property tax levy. If it does end up passing, the levy rate in 2019 would be 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. County auditor offices in Snohomish and Island counties are scheduled to certify election results on May 4. A simple majority is needed for passage.

If the measure doesn’t pass, the existing levy would continue. However, revenue wouldn’t meet the rising costs of maintaining services and the budget would be reduced starting in 2019, library officials said.

“We need to wait and see what the outcome of this election is before deciding on next steps,” Woolf-Ivory said.

Woolf-Ivory said the early results are understandable given the difficult discussions regarding property taxes. “We know that talking about and voting for property taxes is tough,” she said.

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