Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 13, 2013

Library happy with tax districts bill

Veto power over hikes not given to fiscal courts


Somerset —

“I feel if I’m able to explain it to them, we’ll be on the same page; at least we’ll have an open dialogue,” said Keeney. “... It’s probably my fault if they aren’t understanding why that’s needed.”
Members of the Pulaski County Fiscal Court expressed unhappiness last September after the library board enacted the latest tax jump, stating disapproval of it and calling it an “increase in bad times,” as Fifth District Magistrate Mike Strunk put it.
Library board president Elaine Wilson echoed Keeney’s sentiments, saying “we ought to have better lines of communication” with the court anyway.
“That’s the reason why we started going to the fiscal court meetings, and both (deputy judge-executive) Rita Curry and the judge (-executive Barty Bullock) are both coming to library board meetings,” said Wilson.
Fears that getting fiscal courts more involved could bring political biases and machinations into greater play were also a concern among those opposed to the Senate’s amendment. Wilson did say that the court has been cooperative when it comes to appointing members to the board.
“We’ve been able to work with county judge-executives for years on getting people appointed to the board,” she said. “... They trust us to pick the best people possible for the board and that seems to have worked out.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Edelen said that the compromises made are “in the spirit of the bill’s original intentions,” and that “they add to accountability and transparency without getting into issues of governance that would jeopardize public health and safety and infrastructure services.”
Edelen’s report found that special districts in Kentucky collect $1.5 billion in taxes and fees annually and another $1 billion in grants, corporate sponsorships and fundraising. In all but three counties, taxpayers pay more to special districts in property taxes than to their county governments. The district spend $2.7 billion per year, about $5 less per capita than the state spend on primary and secondary education.
The Pulaski County Public Library’s budget for the 2012-2013 year totals $2,709,434. Of that, about $982,151 goes to personnel at the main branch located in downtown Somerset and at the library’s four other branches located in the county.  

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