Voters will decide future of West Richland library - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Voters will decide future of West Richland library

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WEST RICHLAND, WA - Can you imagine a town with no library? Right now there is no Plan B to pay for the West Richland branch of Mid-Columbia Libraries. Plan A is having voters decide whether to change the way it's paid for by dropping one tax in exchange for another.

"Really, there are some people who don't use it... But there are a lot kids who, you know, can't vote but they really rely on this," said library supporter Janson Sloughter. He and his family are one of more than 11,000 cardholders who frequent that branch. West Richland cardholders also take advantage of the digital content far more than any other branch.

Now thanks to turned-off landlines and more energy-efficient homes, the once lucrative 2.5% utility tax is falling short.

"Basically that gap we're trying to fill is $100k. And that's what that property tax lid lift would do," said West Richland Finance Director Jessica Platt. 

Proposition 1610 offers to get rid of the utility tax and replace it with a 45-cent increase in property taxes. West Richland has contracted with Mid-Columbia Libraries for 48 years. An independent review found that is the cheapest option despite the hefty price tag.

"Currently for 2016 it's about $393,000 a year," said Platt.

But 45-centers per thousand dollars assessed value of a home could give this story a happy ending. Mid-Columbia Libraries representatives say the impact on the rest of the branches would be minimal but the pool of resources for new content would shrink, as all contracts are pooled.

"Especially like low-income kids, you can't afford to go out and buy a book every day for some of these kids - so they can come here and get as many books as they can read," said Sloughter.

Prop 1610 will go before voters in the November election. The City's website has a plethora of information and a calculator to show your impact.