The Baker County library is not one of Baker City's noteworthy buildings, architecturally speaking.
But in a host of other ways it's one of our more important structures.
It's where toddlers first feel the joy and wonder of strolling between rows of books stacked far higher than they can reach.
Where adults go to peruse a newspaper or linger over a compelling magazine story in a tranquil setting.
And, to acknowledge current technology, it's where teenagers can go to update their Facebook page.
And all of this is free.
Except someone has to pay the bills.
Baker County property owners pick up the tab, and they've been quite generous over the years in doing so.
They've realized a healthy return on their investment, too, in the form
of additional hours of operation and the Baker City library and at
satellite branches, and improvements in computers and other technology.
These new services happened in large part because county voters
decided, in November 2006, to renew for five years a property tax levy
that supplies about 30 percent of the Library District's annual budget
That levy expires June 30, 2012.
Voters will have a chance, in the primary election less than a month
away, on May 17 of this year, to extend that levy for five more years.
We strongly urge voters to vote "yes" and re-assert their support for
this vital community service that's available to every person in the
county (and our visitors, too).
This is a hard time to ask voters to approve anything having to do with taxes.
But here's the thing: Voting "yes" on the library levy won't raise your tax rate.
The measure would merely continue the current levy at the current rate - 24.9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
For the owner of a property assessed at $150,000, that amounts to $37.35 per year - barely a dime a day.
Considering the cuts that would be necessary were the levy renewal to
fail - reduced hours, slashing the budget to buy books and other
materials - a dime a day sounds to us like a rare bargain.