Commonwealth Journal

Local News

November 15, 2012

Auditor: Library taxing districts are models for others

Somerset —  

Though the tax supporting Pulaski County’s own library system is currently embroiled in controversy, one state official has suggested that it could be part of a model for other special taxing districts to follow.
On Wednesday, the Kentucky State Auditor’s office released a report compiling information on almost 1,270 special districts throughout the Commonwealth. They’ve combined to collect $1.5 billion in taxes and fees, as well as another $1 billion in grants, corporate sponsorships, and fundraising.
"The problem is we have an enormous layer of government that has been allowed to operate in a way that isn't directly accountable to the public," Edelen said at a news conference in Frankfort Wednesday to announce the release of the database and a report.
And while that might sound similar to the complaints of local petitioners here in Pulaski County seeking to dissolve the library board over ever-rising tax rates, Edelen — a Democrat and former chief of staff for Gov. Steve Beshear — actually considers the state’s library boards to be an example of “best practices” in the way they operate.
“We’re trying to get a feel for how many (special taxing districts) there are in Kentucky, who’s complying (with the law) and who’s not,” said Edelen. “We’ve actually held libraries up ... because they have accountabilities built into the system.”
Edelen couldn’t speak directly to Pulaski County’s own library board, but did say that those like it had to have its members go through training in areas like financial obligations and ethics, “policies for effective board governance that we’d like to see in all districts.”
He added, “Then they have to files their budgets and financial information annually with the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives in Frankfort.” He added that library boards are aided by “a very strong network,” in particular the assistance of the Kentucky Library Association.

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