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Orcas Island Library to Place Levy Measure on November 8 Ballot

Construction is underway for the Orcas Island Library expansion. In response to community feedback and long-term evaluation, the Library has added more space, more technology and a larger collection. The expansion will nearly double the size of the Library, including a 30% increase in collection size, pockets for quiet reading, more worktables, a dedicated computer area, new Children’s and Young Adult Rooms, two new small-group meeting rooms, and an outdoor patio for reading and wi-fi access. Construction is scheduled for completion in summer 2017.

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The Library has raised $3.5 million of the funds needed for the $4.2 million expansion, including a $1.4 million gift from the Robert and Phyllis Henigson Living Trust, $1.4 million in Washington State capital funding, more than $100,000 from the Friends of the Library, and $600,000 from private donors.

As Board President Margaret Payne describes, “For three years, we have all worked very hard to secure the State and private funding for this necessary project. We’ve come a long way — over 80% — toward full funding.”

The Orcas Island community voted to create the Orcas Island Library District in 1987. There has been no levy increase since that time. Due to the passage of State Initiative I-747, limiting property tax revenue increases to 1% per year, funding for the Library has not kept up with inflation. As a result, in recent years, the Library has dipped into its reserves to maintain basic services.

On July 27, the Library Board of Trustees approved a resolution to adjust the levy rate from 30 to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, to be included on the ballot for the November general election. This levy will enable the Library to complete funding for its expansion and maintain the current level of services in the newly expanded facility. The estimated tax increase for a $250,000 property will be approximately $37 per year.

The Orcas Island Library ranks consistently in the top five libraries in the state, per capita, for number of cardholders, user visits, checkouts, and collection size. Clearly, the community values its library. Come by in person or visit www.orcaslibrary.org to see the ongoing changes, or contact Library Director Phil Heikkinen for more information, either about the project or the ballot measure, at 376-4985, or pheikkinen@orcaslibrary.org.

If interested in filing a ballot statement or joining a committee to advocate against this measure, please contact the Library Director or the San Juan County Auditor.

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Historic Barns of the San Juan Islands

The barns of San Juan County are a visual testimony to the rich history of island farming. Some of the largest structures in the islands, they literally stand out in the landscape. They are treasured by local residents and visitors alike as monuments to the distinctive cultural landscape of the islands. This site will provide you with information about these barns and their island context.

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