Manuel attended Thursday’s meeting and confirmed those sentiments.
The library’s debt 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.
The county’s officials have backtracked, stating that they never intended for the library to cease operations.
The petition’s supporters have largely expressed the same thought — that no one wants the library to close.
Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock said during Thursday’s meeting that he would begin attending the library board meetings himself to ensure that a line of communication stays open between the county and the library board.
But those statements weren’t enough to those who are seeing the end of the library in a possible future.
“It’s all well and good to come up and say we don’t want the library to close, it’s a lovely facility, but the way this has been handled guarantees that if you get the votes and this goes through, this board will dissolve,” said citizen Christine Brinson. “Without a board, there is no library. The library will close. All branches will close. And we get the benefit of still paying the taxes while our library is closed.”
The petition’s supporters, who were significantly outnumbered during Thursday’s meeting, emphasized that their problem wasn’t with the library itself, but with the idea that the public is being taxed without any oversight.
“We’re not being represented, folks,” said former judge-executive Louie Floyd.