With the county library system running a $19,000 budget shortfall and unable to fund new pet spending projects, the Friends of the Pike County Public Library have gathered 1,500 signatures to place a referendum on the November 3rd ballot calling for a 1 mill tax increase on the assessed value of each Pike County homeowner’s property (estimated to generate $1.1 million in new funds). This revenue is to be “dedicated solely to the maintenance, improvement and regional extension of library services and facilities throughout the County”. While on the surface this ballot measure seems fairly straight forward, there are questions that beg to be answered.
According to the Pike Co. Library System, the state contributed $248,000 toward the libraries in 2008, $245,000 in 2009 and is slated to contribute $196,000 in 2010. The Library Systems annual budget is $629,000, which means the state footed over 38% of their total operating costs. Now with a $1 million dollar property tax hike on the ballot, PCLS is looking for more than double their annual budget at the expense of Pike Co. taxpayers.
I have a simple solution that wouldn’t require raising taxes a cent. How about the Friends of Pike County Public Library simply ask for donations (each of the 1,500 petition signers would need to pay $12.67 to pay off the shortfall), instead of raising everyone’s property taxes? Establishing a non-profit foundation would be a practical and secure way of receiving donations from those who most utilize the service and pay for future expansions.