Commonwealth Journal

November 29, 2012

Library petition drive ended

Sanders says Ky. legislature may make petition unnecessary

Staff Report
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

The controversial petition that many local residents feared might lead to the closure of the county library is apparently no more.
Barbara Sanders, who has orchestrated a petition drive to dissolve the Pulaski County Public Library Taxing District, has opted to end that effort, according to a report Thursday evening by the Associated Press.
Sanders said in a statement that the petition drive may be “unneces-sary” now thanks to recent develop-ments in the state legislature, according to the report.
State lawmakers are currently drafting legislation that would shine a spotlight on special taxing districts and hold them to greater accountability, following a report by State Auditor Adam Edelen earlier this month that revealed many such districts across the Commonwealth aren’t always complying with legal requirements.
Libraries in Kentucky are actually among the better-represented special taxing districts in terms of playing by the rules, according to Edelen. 
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. ... Then they have to files their budgets and financial information annually with the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives in Frankfort.”
Sanders had previously told the Commonwealth Journal that her anti-taxing group would stop accumulating signatures under one condition — the current library board has to step aside and allow five new members to be appointed.
“The whole board needs to be revamped. And soon,” Sanders said. “We would drop our petition if they all resigned and a new ‘legal’ board was selected.”
Sanders objected to the continued raising of taxes as voted upon by the library board, which is appointed and not voted upon like school boards, another taxing district. 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.
The petitioners had until Dec. 11 to collect 6,500 signatures. If successful, 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 of about $9,507,830. 
For more details on this development in the library petition story, see Saturday’s edition of the Commonwealth Journal.