Commonwealth Journal

Local News

November 1, 2012

Q&A forum on library tax being held tonight

Petition to dissolve taxing district could close library

(Continued)

Somerset —

The library tax rate increased in 2009 to 6 cents per $100 of real property, and that rate stayed the same in 2010. It increased in 2011 to 6.30 cents per $100 and that rate went up to 6.4 cents for this year. 
The solution to out-of-control tax hikes, the petition group is saying, is to dissolve the board and reform it under the direct authority of fiscal court. 
But the board and its attorney, Bruce Orwin, are saying the solution isn’t that simple. 
Information provided to the board from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) suggests that the board would cease to function in the aftermath of a petition to dissolve the district — except only to repay the library’s debt. The department also stated that, in its opinion, the library building and all of its assets (including books, computers, furniture and more) would be sold off to settle the debt. 
 The library’s debt, much of it extending from the construction of the current building, which began operations in 2008, stands at about $9,507,830, according to Keeney. 
An Attorney General opinion (OAG 79-102) also states a library tax would still exist until the debt is paid off. State law also forbids the creation of a second special district while the first district is still in existence. So, essentially, a board under authority of fiscal court could not be created until the library’s debts are paid off, at which point the first board would be completely dissolved. 
Sanders said she intends to raise questions about the library’s debt, which she says has ballooned far above what the construction of the new main branch was expected to cost, and she said she wants to know whether the library board looked at cutting costs first before raising taxes.
Sanders said she’s collected about 3,000 signatures on a petition to dissolve the board, which doesn’t include the number of petitions circulated by others. Around 6,500 signatures — half of the eligible voters who voted in the last general election — must be collected by 4 p.m. Monday in order for the petition to be successful.

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