Former judge-executive Darrell BeShears was also in attendance Thursday and he asked that the library board figure out a way to refinance their bond rates — which Keeney said stand at 3.9, 4.30 and 4.70 percent.
After more than an hour of questions and debate, those board members in attendance agreed to look into refinancing in an effort to avoid further tax increases.
Keeney said that, since 2009, she’s reduced the number of employees at the library and its four branches by 20 percent, reduced salaries by five percent, reduced material expenses by 49 percent, reduced operating costs by 25 percent, and reduced technology costs by 23 percent.
Keeney also said staff development costs were reduced by 63 percent.
“I have taken my budget down to where it is right at the bare bones minimum to offer the services at the level we have today,” Keeney said.
State Librarian and KDLA Commissioner Wayne Onkst said the current special taxing system is working well, and he said the board’s members are citizens themselves who work hard to ensure the library operates as it should.
And Onkst said dissolving the board and re-creating it under fiscal court, once the debt is paid off, would be a mistake.
“The one thing they wanted to do (when the state’s library system was created) was to keep politics out of the library,” said Onkst. “The way we go about this ... we don’t want the fiscal court running the library.”
“I like the way this system works,” Onkst continued. “Library boards are the last true citizen pieces of government.”
Library supporters asked that Sanders not turn the petition in. Sanders said she had been told that the petition, which must have 6,500 signatures, has to be turned in Monday, but Manuel said she actually has 90 days to do so. That would put the petition deadline in December.