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September 18, 2012
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'One county, one library, one tax'

Measure L proposes to bring equality, justice and unity to El Dorado County. No, it's not a systematic restructuring of the social system, but it does promise to help standardize and unify the county's library tax system and bring justice to the area's book lovers.

The measure proposes to level the playing field between the five zones in El Dorado County by establishing a $17.58 per parcel tax across the region. Under the current system, each zone pays a different tax amount even though they all receive the same centralized services.

Then there's Zone H, which encompasses the Placerville and Pollock Pines areas and has never passed the library tax. The fact that residents in that region don't pay to support the library system is unequal and unfair, Friends of the Library Vice President Kay Henderson said.

She said she hopes that Measure L can change that.

"It will stabilize funding. The sunset is 15 years so by making it consistent across the county, it provides for rational planning," Henderson said.

Measure L would replace the four existing taxes with a countywide parcel tax to support the county's libraries for 15 years. In South Lake Tahoe, which already has a $17.58 tax, voters won't feel many changes if the measure passes.

Some taxes would actually decrease in the basin. Taxes on unimproved parcels would drop by half and, for the first time, timeshares would be charged $50 a year, or what amounts to $1 per week, excluding two maintenance weeks. Since vacationers utilize the library just like residents do, Henderson said she thinks it's fair that visitors chip in to help the system.

According to the El Dorado County Library webpage, 100 percent of the $1.6 Measure L would generate in the first year would be used to pay for the direct cost of each branch library.

"We have an integrated library system and it's time we had a fair tax to support that library system. Everyone should pay their fair share. There's no argument against it," Library Commissioner for South Lake Tahoe Nancy Enterline said.

Enterline said she doesn't want to see a return of dark days 18 years ago when funding was scarce and the South Lake Tahoe branch only opened its doors 14 hours a week.

"We weren't able to do a lot of the things we'd done in the past," she said.

When South Lake Tahoe voters approved a 10-year parcel tax in 1995 to support the local branch, the library flourished again. In 2005, South Shore voters again supported the tax. Voters in three of the other four zones followed a similar suit, while only Zone H did not. That inequality could be remedied by Measure L, Enterline said.

"Because it's a system, our funding should be fair to all property owners. Everyone should pay their fair share," she said.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 18, 2012 08:22PM Published Sep 18, 2012 08:20PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.