The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 28, 1921, page 6


     To the Editor Hood River News: -- Dear Sir: we have a splendid budget law. Its object is to give the people an opportunity to express their views upon public questions pertaining to tax levies. The budget committee, which is appointed by the county court, is supposed to be valuable in its advisory capacity; and, under fair and political conditions, it should be.
     At our county budget meeting in December, the question of the increased taxes for the library fund was argued pro and con by both the public and the budget committee. After this was done the county court accepted the decision of the budget committee and decided to allow $2000 for the county's share of the library fund. This, when matched with the city, gives the library board $4000 to expend for one year's operation. A few days later the county court was persuaded to ignore the wishes of the people, by increasing the library funded by $750, making a total of $2750 for the county's share of the library tax. This change was made under the pressure of certain citizens, who claimed that a former contract between the city and county compelled each to share one half of the annual expense of operating the library. If those who are so anxious to follow the contract will only read it carefully, they will find that every dollar of the library fund, thus ordered, by both the city and county, has been done illegally; and any citizen who so desires, could enjoin and stop the payment of all of it; and the whole thing would have to be done over again. The library board has no dictatorial powers toward levying taxes; no power to purchase or sell property, and can only recommend their wants to both the city council and the county court. The only legal method to follow in making a library tax levy, as per contract between city and county, is for both, the county court and the city council, to hold a joint annual public library budget meeting and there consider the budget containing the various expense items for operating the library for the ensuing year. This has not been done. The $750 increase is a big bluff forced onto our county court. If this increase is permitted to stand, though done illegally, and the same coercive spirit is shown in the future as is now being shown by our about city library benefactors, a reaction may arise that will cause some to regret. The expense item of $1000 for new books for the library could be easily dispensed with, under our present financial stress and, if spent at all, should be spent on our public highways, where it would be a godsend to those who make it possible for the city of Hood River to have such an expensive library.
     Just one more thought. Is it honorable and that either, city or county, shall dictate to the other "just what they must do," such as has been done since the county budget meeting held last December. Such stunts may be pulled off with a grin of "I told you so," but peace and harmony cannot prevail were such tactics are used. If we do not begin somewhere to curtail expenses by lowering our taxes where it is possible to do so, we will soon be ready for a public receiver. We will admit that a nice library is a valuable asset to any city, but when compared with a system of concrete market roads leading into that city, it sinks into insignificance. Will our city brothers ever learn how to play fair. We sincerely hope so.

Sincerely yours,

Pine Grove, Jan. 26, 1921.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer