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Taxpayers can expect their library tax rates to remain flat, or decrease slightly for the upcoming fiscal year.
If they’re expecting the library board to drop rates to the level demanded by a taxpayer lawsuit against Anderson Public Library, it won’t be an option.
Library director Pam Mullins said she found no reason to recommend the compensating rate, at 87 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or a 4 percent revenue increase, at 90 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
“My suggestion would be don’t use these rates,” Mullins told trustees as they reviewed tax rate calculations sent from the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives (KDLA).
“Given our income for this year, I definitely don’t see any reason to raise the rate,” Mullins said in an interview following the July 16 board meeting, “and I think we can lower it and still be fine budget-wise.”
To reduce the rate to 25 cents per $1,000 assessed value as demanded in the lawsuit, the decrease in tax revenue generated would likely lead to a significant cut of library services, Mullins said.
The 25-cent tax rate is just not something the board is considering for the fiscal year, Mullins said.
“Even without requesting the rate, you can do the math and know that would reduce our income to something like 70 percent,” she said.
“There’s no way to maintain our current level of services at that amount.”
Local taxpayers filed the lawsuit earlier this year in Anderson Circuit Court, alleging that library board has not followed state law in setting its tax rate each year.
Along with lowering the rate to its original level from 1967 at 25 cents, the suit also demands refunds for taxpayers. Similar suits have been filed in northern Kentucky, and two circuit court judges have ruled against libraries there.
Both cases are being appealed.
No hearings on the local lawsuit have been scheduled.
The library board approved a $1.357 million budget for 2013-2014, and received about $1.2 million in tax revenue last year. They anticipate receiving $1.3 million in tax revenue for 2013.
At the 25-cent rate demanded in the lawsuit brought against the library, anticipated tax revenue would be about $375,000, roughly a 69 percent decrease of total revenue.
Mullins said she can ask KDLA to calculate about four to five new tax rates for the board to consider, including slightly lower tax rates at 84 or 85 cents per $1,000 assessed value. Mullins said she’d probably request a calculation that would determine what tax rate was required to receive the $1.3 million in tax revenue anticipated for 2013, and what revenue would be generated if real and personal property taxes were set at equal to one another.
Although trustees could set the tax rate at either the July or August board meeting, library board president Bryan Proctor said he’d prefer to wait until the board could review the other tax rate calculations discussed, and to include the incoming new trustees in the board’s decision.
Outgoing trustees Katie Hutton and Amy Kennedy were not present at the Tuesday meeting.
Mary Ann Abner and Rachel Dockal will be sworn in as the library’s two newest trustees during the Aug. 20 board meeting.
“I think they [new board members] need to be involved in the discussion, setting the tax rate,” Proctor said.
According to Mullins, the board will likely vote on this year’s tax rate during its Aug. 20 meeting, or during a special-called meeting next month.
No action was taken during the board’s discussion on tax rates.
Board considers forming advisory committee
Board president Bryan Proctor proposed creating an “advisory committee” to gather more input regarding the library’s services.
The advisory board or committee would have no voting rights, but come to monthly library board meetings to offer input on improvements for the library, Director Pam Mullins said.
Members of the advisory committee — volunteers from the Anderson County committee concerned about library services and activities — would be able to observe the workings of the library board in a less formal environment than the board itself, maybe leading to interested trustee applicants down the road.
“It’s kind of creating a pathway for new members [trustees],” Mullins told trustees during the board meeting.
“It would be hopefully people interested in how the board works, but it also serves the purpose of allowing the board to get input from a larger portion of the community,” Mullins said in a phone interview last week.
Mullins said she is currently researching best practices for the structure of a future advisory committee, such as if a member of the library board would be appointed to oversee the board or if members would be appointed or reviewed through an application process.
She said she hopes to come to the August board meeting with more specific information on advisory committees for the board to consider.
According to KRS 61.805, any board, council or advisory committee created by the library board would be subject to the same open meetings laws and regulations as the library board itself.
Library board notebook
Board discusses marketing plan
The library is doing many things right when it comes to marketing and public relations, library director Pam Mullins said in a marketing plan update to the board Tuesday night.
After recently attending an American Library Association conference in Chicago, Mullins said the library is acting on many of the suggestions made by PR and media consultants she’s spoken with.
The library recently compiled an in-house newsletter — which is available for patrons and is sent to the city and county government, school board, Anderson Community Education and the health department — and is working on its logo, Mullins said.
She said she may have some more concrete information for trustees in upcoming meetings.
In a follow-up interview, Mullins said she has not had any further contact with the three public relations firms mentioned during the June library board meeting.
‘At this point, we may decide we don’t really need that, that we are able to go it alone or that we need some brief help,’ Mullins said.
Board improves land to assist
Friends of the Library
The board of trustees unanimously approved a motion to purchase gravel for the foundation and a pathway to a new Friends of the Library storage building, which is scheduled to be moved to the library campus by the beginning of August.
The Friends of the Library organization — a separate, non-profit organization from the public library itself — approached board in May regarding its request to place a moveable storage building on library land.
The building would store the Friends of the Library’s book collection and would be used during book sales. The cost of the 16 by 36 foot storage facility, paid for by the Friends of the Library, was estimated at $6,000 to $9,000.
‘I think we should help in some manner,’ board president Bryan Proctor said after Friends of the Library members mention the building purchase depleted most of their funds.
The board cannot make a donation to the Friends of the Library organization or purchase items on its behalf, but the board can make improvements on its own land, KDLA representative Terry Manuel and Library director Pam Mullins said.
The gravel, once a bid has been accepted, would be paid for out of the library’s capital expenditure fund.
Board approves public computer
A public computer management system — one that will streamline the process of paying and receiving printouts at the library — is scheduled to be purchased and installed by this fall, Library director Pam Mullins said at last Tuesday’s meeting.
The system, expected to cost the library $4,000-6,000,
President recognizes old, new trustees
Board of Trustees President Bryan Proctor recognized outgoing library trustees Katie Hutton and Amy Kennedy during the July 16 meeting, and welcomed new trustees Mary Ann Abner, who was present during the meeting, and Rachel Dockal.
Both Abner and Dockal will be sworn in before the Aug. 20 meeting.
Library to receive new
Bessie Gray will be filling the vacant role of the Anderson Public Library’s regional librarian contact and presenting regional report updates to the board.
KDLA representative Terry Manuel previously attended meetings to inform the board of regional information, Mullins said, but not in the official capacity of regional librarian. The library has not been appointed a regional librarian — a position filled by KDLA — for several years, Mullins said.