Voters renew annual library district tax

Town Crier File Photo
Voters last week approved renewal of a $33.66 annual tax for the Santa Clara County Library District, which includes the Los Altos main, left, and Woodland libraries.

A mail-in ballot measure to renew a Santa Clara County Library District tax overwhelmingly passed last week. Needing two-thirds approval, Measure A received 81 percent of the vote.

More than 48,000 residents in 267 precincts within the library district voted in favor of the renewal Aug. 27, which extends for 20 years an annual $33.66 tax per single-family home. Specific voting results for Los Altos and Los Altos Hills were not available by the Town Crier’s press deadline.

In late June, the Los Altos City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting the measure, five days after a similar symbolic vote – also unanimous – by the Los Altos Hills City Council.

“(The vote) shows that all the people who use the library system throughout the county appreciate what we have,” said Los Altos City Councilwoman Jan Pepper, the council’s representative on the library district’s Joint Powers Authority Board.

Los Altos librarian Jane Cronkhite added that the favorable vote was a crucial step in the library district’s ability to maintain its level of service.

“I think we have excellent services at the library, and I’m just happy we’ll have them for another 20 years,” Cronkhite said. “I’m just really grateful to the community.”

Cronkhite delivered a presentation to the city council in June outlining the effects on the district library system if the measure failed to meet its two-thirds benchmark for renewal. Among other things, Cronkhite noted at that time, some libraries would have been forced to reduce staff and hours of operation, while also facing the possibility of eliminating the district’s book mobile and youth reading programs.

In addition, Cronkhite said at the time, all Measure A tax dollars raised within a particular city are “returned for the benefit and operation of the local library in that city.”

Locally, Cronkhite added, the loss of Measure A funding would have eliminated offerings like the library’s summer reading program, which had more than 1,000 participants – children and adults – this year.

“Those are the types of things that keep people reading and keep families reading together,” she said, noting that the annual tax funds approximately 18 percent of the library district’s annual budget.

Los Altos Library Commissioner Darwin Poulos, also a member of Friends of the Library of Los Altos and Community, told the Town Crier that the library group was confident the measure would pass the test with Los Altos and Los Altos Hills voters.

“There was no genuine concern at all about Los Altos and Los Altos Hills – we knew (local voters) would pass this,” he said. “Our concern was with some of the other communities in the district, who maybe saw this as another tax. That’s why it was important to stress to voters that this was just a renewal.”

Pepper concluded that the vote showed that residents consider the library system a boon for their communities, noting that “it’s great that we get to maintain what we have here.”

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