Voters in El Dorado County will be asked in the Nov. 6 election to approve an annual countywide parcel tax of $17.58 to help maintain six libraries from Cameron Park to South Lake Tahoe.
Under El Dorado County's Measure L, some owners would pay lesser amounts, depending on the type of land they own.
Supporters of the library tax say they are eager to maintain services that residents have come to appreciate, including regular hours of operation, computer access, materials from digital books to CDs, and special programs.
The tax would generate about $1.6 million annually for the county's library services.
The library's operating budget is about $3.2 million, said Jeanne Amos, director of the county's library system.
Among the sources of library funding are the county's general fund, the library system's own dwindling reserves and the tax proceeds derived from multiple but not all - library "benefit zones."
The largest areas of the county without an existing parcel tax are Placerville and Pollock Pines.
Voters from those areas in 2005 twice rejected funding measures to help support library services. The first rejection came in March of that year, when a special library tax fell 14 votes shy of the required two-thirds majority. Backers rallied from that loss and placed another measure on that year's November ballot.
That measure would have authorized an annual $15 tax. But it, too, fell short. It received 55.3 percent of vote, about 11 percentage points shy of the needed two-thirds majority.
Approval now, Measure L advocates say, is critical.
Tax collections in some "library service zones" are about to phase out.
The parcel taxes of $17.58 a year for libraries in Georgetown and South Lake Tahoe are due to expire in 2015.
Those taxation sunsets will cut about $500,000 from the $1.2 million in parcel taxes paid in virtually every library enclave except Placerville and Pollock Pines.
This time, instead of placing individual measures on the ballot for each library zone, the county is asking voters across the county to establish a countywide tax.
Larry Calderwood, president of Friends of the Library of El Dorado County, is leading the advocacy effort.
"The concept: It's one county, one library system, one unified library tax," Calderwood said. "It doesn't make any sense, nor is it fair, to have people living within this county to have different funding arrangements."
If Measure L wins a two-thirds vote in the general election, the replacement tax would take effect on July 1, 2013. Increases would be tied to inflation, up to 3 percent a year. But the tax would not exceed $25.
In addition, owners of multifamily residential units would pay 80 percent of the base tax per unit. Owners of mobile home parks would pay 50 percent of the base per mobile home.
And owners of unimproved land would pay half the base tax. Time-share owners would pay too $1 per time-share interest.
The tax would remain on property tax bills for 15 years.
Richard Akin, a Gold Hill resident, played a role in pushing for defeat of the 2005 library measure for Placerville. No formal opposition has surfaced for this year's ballot question.
But Akin said last week that he's not happy about Measure L.
"I have a library card and I use it on occasion," Akin said. "I think highly of the library."
Still, he said he is "very definitely opposed."
"There's no good reason why the expenses for the operation and maintenance of the library should be any different than for all the other requirements that fall on the backs of government," he said.
"We have (costs for) sheriff and fire protection and suppression," Akin said "We have mental health and all the other issues that have to be funded.
"I don't see why a library should be in a favored position."