Auditor finds library dissolution petition insufficient
June 29, 2023
DAYTON–A petition to dissolve the Columbia County Rural Library District was shy of meeting the 10% threshold by six signatures.
A letter addressed to Rural Library District Trustee Chairman Jay Ball was received on June 28 from Columbia County Auditor Will Hutchens, just two days before the deadline to submit petitions to his office. In the letter, he determined the petition to dissolve the library district was deficient in the required number of signatures to be eligible for the ballot.
After Hutchens reviewed 16 pages which contained 282 signatures, it was found that 181 were Dayton residents, nine Starbuck residents, and another 28 were disqualified, leaving 101 valid signatures from county residents which the auditor said does not meet the requirement to move forward.
Jessica Ruffcorn, sponsor of the petition, learned last week from the State Attorney General's office regarding who qualifies to sign and vote for the dissolution of a county rural library district. The RCW 27.12.320 states only registered voters in unincorporated counties can vote. The City of Dayton was later annexed into the district, so the question was whether registered voters who are city residents can sign and vote.
The answer was that the law is clear that though annexation is permitted, the statute on dissolution remained unchanged. Therefore only 10% of the registered voters in unincorporated Columbia County can sign the petition and then vote on the measure which means 107 signatures were needed for the petition.
If the minimum signatures required had been met, the RCW states the latest it would have had to be presented to the Library Board of Trustees was 90 days before the election.
The petition was presented to the Auditor on June 21, according to the letter.