Drain library group to send tax levy to ballot

In November of 2016, Douglas County residents were told the county was running out of options to fund the library system. They were told that it was possible libraries in Drain, Yoncalla, Roseburg and throughout the county would shut their doors and cease their services. They were told there was a ballot measure--44 cents per $1,000 assessed  value-- aimed at creating a tax district to fund the library. On November 4, ballot measure proponents and the county were told, "No thank you," by the voters and saw the libraries close their doors one after the other. The last one, Roseburg, slamming its door in June of this year. 

A little over a year after the initial ballot measure was voted down, Friends of the Mildred Whipple Library are hoping to generate a different outcome with a slightly different tactic. 

"We want to create the North Douglas Library District to fund the library in Drain," Valarie Johns said. Johns is a member of the Friends of the Mildred Whipple Library group and is hoping that, with the aid of an attorney, the group can do what the November 2016 ballot measure failed to do: fund the library. 

The group is planning on proposing a 40 cent per $1,000 of assessed value tax--four cents less than the one proposed in November. 

"It would follow the school district boundaries because you have the problem of people outside the city and that would take care of it if it followed the school district," Johns said. 

The group reportedly had first intended to created a five year rate but after speaking with an attorney, was directed to a permanent rate.

Solutions to the library crisis in Douglas have been varied and in some places around the county, non-existent. Volunteers have stepped forward to run the library in places like Yoncalla but services fall short of what they had been when the library was open under county funding sources. And in some communities, like Drain, the buildings still lay shuddered. 

"We have a small enough volunteer base that we can't divide our efforts," Johns said of possibly opening the library with the help of volunteers. 

The group went before the Drain City Council on Monday, September 11 to present its plan and see what the city would be willing to offer. 

According to city administrator Steve Dahl--who noted he could not speak for the council--the city would be willing to offer the same package it did to the county in regards to the library. It would include the building, sewer and water and wifi and Internet access.

While the group has the support of its volunteers and the city, Johns said the effort is far from over. The question, due to the timing of requirements to place something on the ballot, would not appear until the May 2018 election. 

"None of this is real until we file that paper work next month," she said. 

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