Policy Statement--Supporting Voter Bond Initiatives
OPPOSE ANY CHANGES TO EXISTING CODE WHICH WOULD ALLOW COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO DENY VOTERS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO TAX THEMSELVES FOR LIBRARY SERVICES
Policy Statement: The Idaho Library Association supports existing policy of the state of Idaho which promotes the establishment and development of public library service for all the people of Idaho. The Association opposes any change to existing Idaho Code which would result in County Commissioners being able to turn down a petition to have an election for the purposes of establishing a library district, thereby denying voters their right to decide whether or not to tax themselves for library services.
As per Idaho Code 332701, “it is….the policy of the state of Idaho, as a part of the provisions for public education, to promote the establishment and development of public library service for all the people of Idaho. It is the purpose of [the public library districts] act to make more adequate provision for an informed electorate by integrating, extending, and adding to existing library services and resources so that public library service may be available to children in their formative years and to adults for their continuing education.”
Idaho Code currently provides a means for citizens to petition to hold an election for the purposes of establishing a library district. County commissioners are charged with holding a public hearing relating to the petition, considering the form of the petition; the genuineness of the signatures; the legality of the proceedings; and any other matters in regard to the creation of the library district. They must then render a decision regarding the election “based upon the public hearing and their determination of whether the proposed library district would be in keeping with the declared public policy of the state of Idaho in regard to districts as set forth in section 332701, Idaho Code.” (emphasis added).
The Code purposely does not provide for Commissioners to make a decision to approve or disapprove the petition and thereby provide for or deny an election based on their personal preferences or those of vocal proponents or opponents. To do so potentially denies citizens the opportunity to decide whether or not they wish to tax themselves for library services and thereby implement the policy of the state of Idaho as it relates to public library districts.
Allowing County Commissions broad authority to disapprove a petition or deny an election results in citizens being arbitrarily denied their opportunity to ensure for themselves access to information on all sides of the issues which are important to their lives and is in direct conflict with policy of the state of Idaho as it relates to public library service.