Library Tax Hike Approved - The Missourian: Local News

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Library Tax Hike Approved

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Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 10:00 am

Scenic Regional Library Director Steve Campbell said he didn’t care by what margin a tax levy increase was approved Tuesday.

Voters in the Franklin County portion of the Scenic Regional Library District narrowly approved the 10-cent increase by just 97 votes. The vote was 3,850, or 53.41 percent, for the hike; while 3,753, or 59.70 percent, opposed it.

“I’ll take it if it was just by one vote,” Campbell said.

The library district includes Franklin, Gasconade and Warren counties, and was approved in all three counties.

In Warren County the vote total was 1,618 for the tax levy, and 1,438 votes against it. In Gasconade County there were 1,378 “yes” votes, and 743 “no” votes.

The total vote for the levy was 6,846 in favor, and 5,934 against it.

“I’m a little surprised. I knew it would be tough to get it passed in this economy,” he said. “We’re really excited here.”

Campbell added that the support in Warren and Gasconade counties was better than anticipated.

“I knew we had a chance or we wouldn’t have tried,” he said.

Campbell said he did not expect the tax levy to pass in each of the three counties this election.

The increased revenue will be used to update technology options, and provide more services to library patrons.

The library has branches in Hermann, Owensville, Union, St. Clair, New Haven, Warrenton and Pacific.

In addition, the increased funding will allow Scenic Regional to provide new and more materials, longer service hours and expanded programs.

Scenic Regional Library has had the same 10-cent operating levy in all three counties since 1959. The library system has never had a tax increase in its entire 55-year history, Campbell said.

He further explained that the library district has the third-lowest tax rate in the state — 131st out of Missouri’s 133 public library districts in 2012. Unlike school districts, the library is over 96 percent locally funded. Nearly all of the library’s revenue is received from the local property tax, not state or federal funds.

The Missouri State Library Association recommends a library operate at a 20-cent or higher tax levy to be able to provide adequate service. The tax increase is estimated to cost a property owner an additional $27.50 a year (based on a $110,000 property).

The library district’s budget will increase from $2.051 million to $4.8 million. The funds would be used for operations, renovations and expansion of all of the district facilities.

Library officials will begin looking at properties and architectural designs for expansion of facilities until revenue comes in late this year and early next year.

“That way we can hit the ground running,” Campbell said.

/local_news

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