Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kitsap Regional Library Stabs South Kitsap in The Back

Last evening, representatives of the Kitsap Regional Library (KRL) came to the Port Orchard City Council and shared their proposal for an upcoming 10-year, $33 million Levy. While an ambitious proposal, that I would otherwise support, it is a blatant insult to the City of Port Orchard and the residents of South Kitsap County

Here's Why...

• The library is proposing a $33 million, 10-year Levy This means, that there won't be ANY additional money available for upgrading library facilities until at least 2021 — and probably beyond, depending on whether or not KRL runs another Levy — and when.

• According to the sheet KRL officials distributed at last night's Council Work Study, they are proposing to spend $7.75 million of that money on a building they own in Silverdale, and $3.4 million on one they DON'T own in Kingston.

• The TOTAL amount of money they are proposing to allocate to Port Orchard over the 10-year period of the Levy is a MAXIMUM of $750,000, but more likely, $500,000 over a five-year period.

• Meanwhile, they expect the City to build them a brand new, 10,000 sq.ft. facility as part of the Towne Center Revitalization Project, and expect the taxpayers of Port Orchard to foot the bill, while giving Silverdale and Kingston residents a free ride. That's simply unacceptable — and quite frankly, a blatant insult to the citizens of South Kitsap.

The City of Port Orchard has worked with KRL in good faith to keep them downtown — at their request. We turned down the opportunity to actually sell their current City-owned waterfront facility — which is much better suited to be remodeled into high-dollar commercial space — to a willing cash buyer that would have generated a substantial amount of new and ongoing sales tax revenue for the City. The City receives no revenue from KRL. That buyer confirmed to me this afternoon that they remain ready and willing to purchase that facility at market value.

This would mean moving the library out of that facility to another within the City limits. While a downtown location couldn't be guaranteed, Givens Center comes immediately to mind.

Frankly, as Mayor, I feel that KRL has stabbed the City in the back, after we have bent over backwards to help them and accommodate their desire to remain downtown.

South Kitsap and Port Orchard are the fastest growing parts of Kitsap County, and are projected to be for years to come. We currently have more than twice as many residents as Kingston, nearly as many as Silverdale and Central Kitsap, and have a demonstrated need for at least an equal share of that Levy money as either Kingston or Silverdale. Additionally, the residents of Port Orchard — whether they annex into the Library District or not — will be helping to pay for those new facilities in Kingston and Silverdale for the next 10-years. Meanwhile, we derive NO direct economic benefit, while being taxed to help other communities — much like we're already doing with the Port of Bremerton tax for the Bremerton Marina. Enough is enough — It's OUR turn.

If you live in South Kitsap and you agree this is blatantly unfair, and that the KRL Board needs to rework their Levy proposal, contact KRL Executive Director Jill Jean at

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