About the PAC
Purpose and Background
People for Libraries is a political action committee registered with the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division. It has one purpose: secure voter approval of countywide library services in Washington County to support the operations of city and community libraries in Washington County. People for Libraries was founded prior to 1996 and in recent years has waged pro-levy campaigns in 2006, 2010, and 2015.
People for Libraries’ organizational structure is very informal. Basically, it is a group of citizens who love libraries and volunteer their time and money to help libraries provide the highest level of possible services to Washington County residents.
Recent Election History
Prior to Oregon voter approval of property tax limitations in 1996 and 1997, funds provided to cities and community libraries all flowed from serial levies approved by voters countywide at three-year intervals. In 1997 these levies ceased, the money they generated being transferred to the county’s general fund. County commissioners since 1997 have continued to appropriate these funds annually for library services in keeping with the voters’ prior decisions.
Between 1997 and 2002 the county allocated additional money to local libraries from a reserve fund built up over a period of years for a “rainy day.” By 2002 this money had been spent and the county board submitted a new levy for 26 cents per $1,000 assessed value. People for Libraries was rusty after a six-year interlude. The campaign started late (July 23). Fund raising was limited to $7,300. Despite these handicaps the levy almost passed, losing countywide by 611 votes.
In 2004 the county board returned to the voters, placing a measure on the May primary ballot. Voters said “yes” 52% to 48%, but a low voter turnout overrode the decision — the so-called “double majority” requirement which has since been repealed for May elections.
In 2006 a third levy proposal was presented to voters at the November general election. Providing a tax rate of 17 cents per $1,000. After a strong campaign by People for Libraries, this measure passed 57% “yes” to 43%. Money from this levy started flowing to libraries on July 1, 2007.
In November 2010, in the depth of the recession, county voters were asked to renew the 2006 levy at the same rate. 65.9% voted Yes. November 2015’s ballot presented a replacement levy which county voters passed with 64% of the vote.
Importance of the County Levy to City and Community Libraries
Countywide, about one-third of the money the county currently provides to local libraries is derived from the levy voters approved in 2015.
What People for Libraries Seeks from WCCLS member libraries
Participation: Library levies do not pass themselves. Libraries in Washington County are loved by their constituents, but voters have to be reminded that library services must be paid for. Historically, library levies do best in cities and unincorporated areas where real local efforts are put into levy campaigns.
People for Libraries has asked each city and community library to appoint one or two individuals to serve as liaison to the People for Libraries at the county level. This person or these individuals will serve as a communications link between PFL and local library communities, keeping both parties informed on campaign efforts at the county and local level. The organization will go on to strategize and run an advocacy campaign during this levy year, 2015.
In July 2014, Tigard Mayor John Cook agreed to serve as the elected official chair of the 2015 campaign.
Financial Support: Individual contributions and donations from library associations and Friends of the library groups have provided significant support for People For Libraries’ levy efforts. The campaigns have appreciated support from several local corporations as well.
The Oregon Political Contribution Tax Credit on the state income tax Form 40 has been the focal point of seeking individual contributions. Contributions made to People For Libraries are eligible for the Oregon Political Tax Credit. This credit may reduce your state tax by up to $100 for couples filing jointly or up to $50 for individuals. Unlike a deduction that reduces your taxable income, a credit reduces the amount of your tax bill dollar for dollar up to these limits if you are eligible. For an explanation of how this tax credit works, see www.oregontaxcredit.com. For more information, consult your tax preparer or the Oregon Department of Revenue.