COLLEGE PLACE — Voters gave a resounding “yes” Tuesday to the question of joining the Walla Walla County Rural Library District.

A measure asking residents to annex into the district was passing by 67% today, with 851 votes in favor versus 413 “no” votes. Turnout was about 24%, with 1,264 ballots returned from the city’s 5,361 active voters.

Outgoing city Mayor Harvey Crowder said today the “significant” margin of approval “just goes to show people are really serious about the need for library services.” The lack of a library was one of the top issues identified by residents in a 2017 survey done by the city, he said.

Crowder added that while he and others hoped the measure would pass, “we weren’t expecting that overwhelming amount of support.”

Rural Library District Executive Director Rhonda Gould said today she wanted to thank the city voters on behalf of the library district’s board of directors and staff.

The people voting in favor of annexation “demonstrated that a public library is essential to a thriving community,” she said in an email. “We look forward to providing library services immediately to all residents of College Place at our current locations and to working with them in the very near future to put a branch on College Avenue.”

College Place City Administrator Mike Rizzitiello said today “since I started here three years ago, this issue was one that a number of residents brought up over the years. College Place was the largest incorporated city in the state without library services. I think that it is great that the residents of the city let their wishes be known.”

The annexation means that property owners in the city will be subject to a property tax levy of 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Gould has said the district’s long-term plan is to move the district’s service center, currently on Jade Street in Walla Walla, and its Plaza Way library branch to district-owned property in College Place because leases on both buildings will expire in four years.

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.