MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County commissioners say a new proposal to keep funding libraries appears to be headed to the voters in May. A county-wide vote will be needed to decide whether or not to establish a library district to keep the libraries funded.
The proposal is in the early stages but Jackson County Commissioners say the fate of the funding for the county’s 15 libraries will be in the voters hands next may.
County officials say recent survey results show voters would likely approve a county-wide library district. The district would be funded by 60 cents per 1,000 dollars of assessed value and would fund all fifteen libraries.
However, city councils must approve the measure’s placement on the ballot. If a city does not put the measure on the ballot, those residents will not be able to vote and if passed, libraries in those cities may be closed. Commissioner John Rachor says the funding would not just keep the libraries open, but restore hours too.
“If this is approved, it will bring the hours the libraries are open back up to the old standard that we had before the cutbacks, so it will increase the hours,” said Commissioner Rachor.
If passed, the library district would be managed by a five-person board elected by voters. In public hearings held this summer, the idea of a library district kept coming up from members of the community. The county still has work to do to get the measure on the May ballot and public hearings will be held in early 2014.