COLLEGE PLACE — An election to annex the city into the Walla Walla County Rural Library District took a step forward Tuesday.

City Council members voted 3-1 to approve an ordinance to have citizens vote on the issue later this year after it is scheduled by Walla Walla County commissioners.

Council members Michael Cleveland, Heather Schermann and Marge Nyhagen voted to approve the measure and Council member Loren Peterson voted no. Council members Melodie Selby and Jerry Bobbitt were absent and one Council seat is vacant.

Rhonda Gould, Rural Library District executive director, said the next step will be for the district’s Board of Directors to write county commissioners requesting the election.

During discussion of the proposal Monday, Mayor Harvey Crowder said providing library services “was one of the two top priorities of our 2017 community survey, the other one being youth recreation programs.”

In response to a question from Schermann, Crowder said there was no timeline yet for the library district to build a branch in the city. However, the district has a branch in the Plaza Way shopping center in Walla Walla “and we have some options of perhaps an interim facility here as we go forward,” he said.

Gould said the district would hope to have a facility to house both a library and the district’s service center built on district-owned property in College Place within no more than four years.

This was because lease agreements for the Plaza Way library branch and the district’s service center on Jade Street will both expire about that time.

Also, if residents voted to annex into the district, Gould said as soon as the election results were certified College Place residents would have access to all five of the district’s branch libraries, as well as all online materials, which include databases, e-books and audio books.

According to its website, the county Rural Library District was established in 1972 and operates as an independent municipal corporation under Washington state

law.

The district is funded by a tax of up to 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value. Its current tax rate is 47 cents per $1,000 of property value.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.