Your Tax Dollars May Be Supporting Another Library Even if You Use the Canby One

The Canby Public Library recently announced that they will be forced to cut their hours in the upcoming fiscal year. The decision to close on Sundays starting in July is the result of a number of financial challenges, primarily driven by increases in PERS costs, and though the city is subsidizing the library from the general fund to a greater extent than they ever have before, there’s simply not enough in the coffers to fully address the shortfall.

Libraries in Clackamas County receive funding from a property tax approved by voters in November 2008 and administered by the Library District of Clackamas County. Fund are distributed according to service area maps for each of the district’s 13 library cities. If you look at the map for Canby, it’s, well, a little weird.

Our district is limited to the north by the Willamette River and to the west by the Pudding and Molalla. To the south, it goes for miles. To the east, we have virtually nothing; almost all of it is in the service area for Oregon City. There’s even one part of Canby’s service district that is line with city limits. Meaning, someone could actually own property next to the city limits of Canby, and yet their property taxes would go to the library in Oregon City, 20 minutes away. It doesn’t make sense.

In the coming weeks and months, Canby city leaders, including City Councilor Shawn Varwig, are meeting with county officials to discuss this situation, and they’ve indicated that written support from area residents would be helpful. My family and I are among those who live on the east side of town, in the Oregon City service area, and yet are served by the Canby Public Library. The following is a letter I’ve drafted for Councilor Varwig to share with county officials:

My name is Tyler Francke. My family and I live on South Casto Road in Oregon City. Though it is an Oregon City address, we are just a few miles from downtown Canby and consider it our hometown. We are in the Canby School District, Canby Fire District and we are regular patrons of the Canby Public Library. However, our address places us in the service area of Oregon City, a library I’ve never been to before. I’m not even 100 percent sure where it is.

The way the Canby library service area is currently drawn, a portion of the east boundary is basically in line with city limits. This means there are people who are just a few yards from living inside the city limits of Canby, and yet, their tax dollars support the Oregon City library. This simply does not make sense.

Our library in Canby recently announced they will have to cut hours in the next fiscal year because of funding constraints related to PERS increases and other challenges. This makes me sad. I support libraries in general and am happy to contribute to library services in our county. However, I would prefer that my tax dollars support the library I actually use.

I respect the difficult task ahead of you, and the fact that all libraries are facing challenges similar to Canby. However, one of the most basic tenants of government is that one’s tax dollars go toward services that they actually use or that benefit them in some way. That is not happening right now in our neck of the woods.

Thanks for your time and consideration.
Tyler Francke

If you’d like to submit your own testimony (and feel free to adapt or copy my words as you please), email Councilor Varwig at varwigs@canbyoregon.gov.

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