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DailyTidings.com
  • Jackson County Library District approves full 60-cent tax

  • A newly formed library district board decided Thursday to tap property owners for the maximum tax rate possible in November.
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  • A newly formed library district board decided Thursday to tap property owners for the maximum tax rate possible in November.
    The Jackson County Library District unanimously approved a rate of 60 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or $90 a year on a house with a valuation of $150,000, to meet an unexpectedly large financial obligation in its first year of operation and to add hours.
    During the campaign to create the library district last spring, many voters thought they would be charged less than the 60 cents.
    "I'm torn," board member Maureen Swift said. "There's going to be dissent no matter which way we go."
    The library district needed the full 60 cents, in part, to pay for 17 months of library operations because property tax revenue won't start coming in until November. The taxes will raise close to $10 million.
    After much discussion, the district board decided to pay most of the more than $500,000 that Ashland, Talent and White City contribute to add additional hours. Ashland alone pays about $400,000 for added hours and services.
    Ashland will continue to pay $100,000 for additional services, but not for the cost of the additional hours. Once the district begins covering that expense, Ashland will no longer collect on its library levy.
    In addition, the board set aside more than $500,000 to add hours at other branches, including possibly Medford. However, those hours will probably not be added until early next year.
    Medford resident Chris Durham objected to the inequity of Ashland getting 40 hours while Medford gets only 24.
    "I haven't heard a rationale why we're doing that," he said. "Everyone should be increased proportionally. Is that fair to all of us taxpayers? I'm submitting that it is not."
    Board President Jill Turner said the goal is to find an equitable solution to providing sufficient hours at all branches, although it doesn't appear to be the case in the interim.
    "It leaves for me some real inequities in doing that," she said. "There are a lot of things wrong in doing that."
    Turner said the board will undertake a study to determine where library hours should be added to create a more equitable solution in the long term.
    — Damian Mann
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