Cities Vote on Placing Measure on Ballot

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Kim Cornette and her two young boys visited the Central Point library on Monday, a place that has become a regular stop every week.

“For years we’ve enjoyed using the library, but recently since school has begun, we’ve enjoyed coming to find books that my boys can use for the projects and classes and so forth,” said Cornette.

While her boys enjoyed browsing through books on , the future of the libraries is unknown. Funding has been cut by the county and now taxing districts must make the May ballot in order to keep the doors open beyond next year. The libraries aren’t alone. Oregon State University extension services to Jackson county, including 4-H, are also in jeopardy.

“Without the local support, without their commitment as seen as value to us, then we go away,” said regional administrator for Jackson and Josephine county extension services, Philip Van Buskirk.

Two ballot measures establishing taxing district, one for libraries and another for the extension offices, are making their rounds at city council meetings in the county. Cities in Jackson County must approve putting the measure to the voters. If a city were to not approve putting the library measure on the may ballot, and if the rest of the county were to approve it, that city’s library would close. A similar situation would occur with the extension office.

“You’d hope to make it county wide which is the easiest to draw. At any point in time that the cities do not allow us to ask or put us on the ballot, for that city, then we would not be able to serve that city,” said Buskirk.

Cornette said she remembers the last time libraries were closed just a few years ago, and hopes it doesn’t happen again.

“I feel it’s very important to keep our libraries open if there’s a way to do that because it’s just an invaluable service helping children in our community,” said Cornette

The extension offices are funded with federal, state and local dollars. Without local support, their doors would close. Extension service officials say 9 out of 11 cities have approved giving the option to the voters, Eagle Point and Shady Cove have not yet voted on the issue.