The results of a June 3 ballot measure will determine whether the South Lake Tahoe Library will continue to benefit from an existing special tax or have to cut hours and services due to a lack of funding.
If approved, Measure L would continue an existing parcel tax that has been approved by voters twice before and provides 83 percent — $420,551 in 2013 — of the funding for the South Lake Tahoe Library.
If the measure does not pass by a two-thirds majority, the library would be forced to make cuts as a result of a significant funding loss.
Kay Henderson, chairwoman of the South Lake Tahoe Library’s Measure L committee, said library staffers remain optimistic that the measure will receive the necessary votes.
“We’re hopeful, as there is strong support in the community for our local library,” she said.
Under the measure, a $20 per-year, per-parcel tax would go to support library services in South Lake Tahoe with inflation adjustments not to exceed 3 percent annually.
Consequently, the tax will never exceed $28.50 per parcel annually, according to an argument in favor of the measure that was filed with El Dorado County.
“As costs go up, Measure L includes a mechanism to gradually increase our library funding, but the special tax will never exceed $28.50,” according to the statement.
The tax, if approved by voters, would take effect July 1, 2015, with an expiration date of 12 years. It would affect a “zone of benefit” which includes all of the city of South Lake Tahoe, the Meyers-Christmas Valley areas and some other outlying parcels.
The existing tax, approved by 82 percent of voters in 2005, will expire June 30, 2015.
An argument in favor of Measure L has been submitted to El Dorado County and will appear on the ballot. No counter-argument was filed by a Feb. 27 deadline.
Even the South Tahoe Association of Realtors, which typically doesn’t want to see homeowners’ taxes increase, is in support of the measure, Executive Vice President Sharon Kerrigan said.
“The general consensus is it’s a great community resource,” she said.
While there has been no formal opposition to this year’s ballot measure, a different library tax measure was defeated in 2012 by 56 percent of voters. That plan, also called Measure L, would have unified the El Dorado County tax system and established a $17.58 per-parcel tax across five zones in the county for 15 years.
Unlike this year’s Measure L, the 2012 measure was not a continuation of an existing tax, and required residents over a much broader area, including Placerville, Camino and Pollock Pines in western El Dorado County, to pay a library tax for the first time.
Because a library tax for the South Lake Tahoe area was passed in 1995, the local library has been running five days per week, Henderson said. Before that, it was running two days per week.
As a result, the special tax has allowed the South Lake Tahoe Library to be a “full-service library” that provides a variety of services and resources, she said.