The furor began when magistrate Mike Strunk took the library board to task during a meeting in October about the “tax increase” for the 2012-2013 year. The compensating tax increase went from 6.30 cents per $100 of real property to 6.40 cents. However, the compensating rate will not increase the library’s operating revenue. The 2012-2013 rate was raised slightly because property values slid this year.
In other words, while taxes went up, the library broke even.
“Taxes were raised to keep the same level of service offered to all residents of Pulaski County,” said Ann Haney, director of the Pulaski County Library Foundation. “Expenses like utilities rise, and last year for example, property values dropped ... when the property values drop, so does the amount of tax dollars collected, thus reducing the library income.
“Each year the library does give Pulaski Fiscal Court a copy of the annual budget. And in past years the library board has actually reduced tax rates,” Haney added. “Library board members are approved by both KDLA and Pulaski Fiscal Court. I agree, improved communication is clearly indicated, on both sides.
“Did you know that 108 counties in Kentucky operate their libraries under the same statutes as we do? The purpose of the law we operate under was to keep politics out of the operation of public libraries,” Haney said. “The library staff understands why raises are few and far between. They might not like it, but are dedicated and want the best for the library. And frankly, many others are not getting raises either.”
The petitioners have until Dec. 11 to collect 6,500 signatures. If successul, the petition would go before fiscal court and the process of dissolving the district would begin.
Case law and state statutes suggest the board would cease to function in the aftermath of a successful petition — except only to repay the library’s debt. The library and its branches would close, and the assets of the library would be sold off to satisfy the debt.