Commonwealth Journal

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November 8, 2012

‘No one wants the library to close'

Bullock, Strunk say they support library; communication is key

Somerset —  

It was Mike Strunk, Pulaski County’s 5th District magistrate, who spoke up when this year’s library tax-rate increase was brought before Pulaski Fiscal Court.
The fallout from the increase spurred a petition drive to dissolve the library taxing district and set off a community-wide uproar concerning the future of the Pulaski County Public Library.
The issue turned into a ticking time bomb when it was revealed case law and state statutes suggest the board would cease to function in the aftermath of a petition to dissolve the district — 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.
Strunk says that is not what he had in mind when he spoke up.
“We don’t want the library to close ... I can tell you that no one on fiscal court wants that,” said Strunk. “The library is a wonderful asset to our community. It is a much-needed facility — people go there to use computers or even watch television.”
Pulaski County-Judge executive Barty Bullock agreed.
“I do support the library wholeheartedly,” Bullock said. “I really think that when this all started, nobody thought this would go as far as it has. No one wants the library to close.”
But that doesn’t mean fiscal court is okay with the library board raising taxes every year.
“Last year, we got it rammed down our throats the last minute and we took the heat for it,” Strunk said. “People don’t understand that we have nothing to do with setting the tax.”
The library board accepted for the 2012-2013 year what’s called a compensating tax rate, calculated to be 6.40 cents per $100 of real property, up from 6.30 cents last year. That means a person who owns property assessed at $100,000 would pay around $64. The compensating rate will give the district roughly the same amount of revenue as it received the year before through tax collections. 

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