Friday, October 19, 2012

Campbell Co. Does Not Need a 4th Library

In an attempt to represent both sides of an issue getting a lot of local attention, the proposed library tax, the writers of Fort Thomas Matters have decided to do a point/counterpoint summarizing the arguments both for and against.  It is worth noting, the articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of FTM nor the individual authors of each article and, as always, we encourage you to independently research this and all issues before voting.  Most importantly, we encourage you to exercise your civic duty and vote on November 6th.

Politics are an emotional business. Sometimes it's difficult to have discernment- especially when an issue on the ballot is near and dear to your heart.

One of the issues on the upcoming ballot for Campbell County residents will be whether or not to build a 4th public library in the southern end of the county.

When an issue like this comes up for the public to decipher whether or not it's in our public's best interest to go forth, I try to keep emotion out of it and look at facts. I don't go as far as listing a pro/con sheet on each issue, but in this case, I will. And yes, I know this stance will tick off fellow Mamas on a Budget.

Please take mercy on me. 




The raw numbers:

- The Library Board is proposing to increase taxes on real property 27% or .94 cents of every $100 or real estate property (up from .74 cents).

- That 27% represents an additional $1,049,156 in additional real estate property tax dollars being taken from property owners in Campbell County. 

According to the 2010 and 2011 Kentucky Annual Report of Public Libraries, library visitors were down 5% and 6.59% in the northern most public libraries in Campbell County.

- This proposed increase in  real property tax is not the only source of revenue for the libraries. The library also received other tax revenues, including tax on their cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes and boats.

Ancillary Negatives for the Proposed Tax

- The Library Board is comprised of non-elected officials and have received compounded pay increases of 14.4% over the last four years. 

- The proposed site of the new library would be close to the Campbell County/Pendleton County border. If anything, I could see this new library being a bigger advantage to Pendleton County residents than Campbell County citizens. It makes zero sense for someone in the Northern part of the county to vote for this.

- This is not a one-time tax. It will be ongoing. The tax monies taken in during the first year would not even pay for a fifth of what it would cost to build the library. That is just to build it. Meaning that having to service the debt each year is ANOTHER cost to the tax payer that is unjustified. It will take almost 5 years to pay the reported $5,000,000 price tag to pay off just the principal. Add costs to maintain it and staff it and it becomes more preposterous.

Personal Thoughts of the Proposed Tax

I started my point/counter point argument with facts and numbers. Those who have made the case to pass the tax increase for the libraries have started with anecdotal evidence and personal stories about how the library is a "value" to them and their communities. And they are. Just not at the price tag this tax would go to paying for.  Look, no one is being deprived of using libraries and that's where Ibelieve the logic jumps are occurring in this debate.

Do I consider the 27% increase (or .94/$100) exorbitant? No. Is the proposed building of this mammoth library imprudent and extravagant? Absolutely. 

When you strip it down, what are we really voting for? Those in favor of the of the tax are sparing residents who live in the Southern part of Campbell County a 10-15 minute round trip to visit another library in the county. Take out the extreme talking heads on both sides. It's not just a one time $20 tax per resident. It's also not an exorbitant 27% tax hike. But common sense tells you that this site is not needed.

The fact of the matter is that in this case the bill to John Q. Taxpayer is too high for the benefit received - especially to all those in Campbell County that would never have a need to venture to the southern end of the county. There is no magic account where funds are limitless. At some point, we have to draw the line- even if the perceived tax increase does not seem to be overwhelming. 

Alternatives

The library tax to build a new location would be the least utilized library in the county based on the populations of cities surrounding it, yet it would be bigger than the Fort Thomas and Cold Spring location combined.

It's simply not needed and should be scaled way back. Instead of just chastising the issue, here's a sensible alternative:

Buy an already built facility for a MUCH smaller price tag to make it a small satellite office which has timely deliveries of requested materials.


Libraries are not just books. I understand that. But public subsidies should not go towards the building of a behemoth new facility when perfectly adequate options are a 10 minute drive down US-27.  



18 comments:

  1. Regarding your statement that "The Library Board is comprised of non-elected officials and have received compounded pay increases of 14.4% over the last four years." This is not true. The library board does not get paid. They are members of the community who VOLUNTEER their time to serve their community.

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  2. There's a long stretch of Campbell County beyond the Cold Spring Branch. Perhaps if the Fort Thomas branch [the middle one between Newport and Cold Spring] and a new one built further out in the county to accommodate the people from northern and southern Alexandria, people in our area would be more up in arms.
    Keep in mind we're not just talking about books to check out: we're talking computer access and research books that many a student would use.
    Now, these students have to come into Cold Spring for access to this materials - materials that their parents pay for with their property taxes.
    I live in Fort Thomas (about a mile from the library) and I TOTALLY support a fourth library; anything you do to better your county or community is nothing but a win-win - both for the county and for its citizens.

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  3. The 27 percent tax increase is FALSE.

    Although the percent is technically correct, it's actually only a two cent increase above what we already pay per every hundred dollars value of your home.

    You can look this up on various sites.

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  4. Actually, the Library Board is unpaid and did NOT receive any raise, this year or ever. If the Library increased the Board's salary by 100%, the salary would still be the same: zero. The staff, over the last four years, have received nominal increases of about 3% each year, adding them up to make a larger number is more than a little misleading. The average salary for Library staff is less than the county-wide average. The Newport facility, at 27,000 square feet, is currently our largest branch. The proposed facility for southern Campbell is 28,000 square feet but serves a much larger geographical area with a much greater potential for population growth. The branch is bigger as proposed because building additions later is expensive and difficult. The Campbell County Historical Society will occupy 5000 square feet of space on the lower level. Their materials are currently in 3000 square feet of space, on two levels, in a space that is not handicap accessible. The Library, for them and the people who use their materials (95% of which are not online), will be a tremendous benefit. Library visits were about 592,000 two years ago, 561,000 one year ago, but 629,000 in the immediate past year. Hardly a decrease. The proposed facility is on a site that's five miles from the Pendleton County line. That's further from a county line than any of our existing facilities. As for closing any existing facility, I truly hope that does not happen. It's a very modest increase to pay for this proposed facility and its operation. If you own a $500,000 piece of property, then the increase would be $100 per year. The property tax is the Library's largest source of income. Taxes on motor vehicles are at the same rate as 1983. The tax on business inventory (or "personal property" as it's called) was reduced by the Board this year. I do not think this article is representative, truly representative, of the facts of this decision of the voters. JC Morgan, Library Director

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  5. Well said. The Newport Libary cost 3 million dollars to build in 2004. Eight years later, Citizens of Campbell County are expected to approve funds to build a 5 million (but i am willing to bet is it closer to a 6-7 million) dollar libary? Now that is inflation. Pendleton County is in fact building there own new libary in Falmouth but it is going to cost only 3 million dollars. Do we need a library with a basement, expensive barrel roofs and wide expanses of glass? I think not. Vote No and maybe the library board can come back to the citizens with a more modest request. Like it or not, lets not forget that without the Tea Party, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to vote on this tax increase as it would have been approved by this unelected board and shoved down the throats of the citizens of Campbell County.

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  6. I would hate for facts to get in the way of anonymous' claim that the 27 percent tax increase is FALSE.

    "Although the percent is technically correct, it's actually only a two cent increase above what we already pay per every hundred dollars value of your home"

    So you just admitted it is technically correct. Enough Said.

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  7. I think that it's hilarious that this is now going to a vote. Earlier in the year it was not going to a vote and councils in the northern part of the county passed resolutions (which meant nothing) supporting the tax. They passed it simply to show their support and at that time I was in support of it as well. Alexandria's Council however, passed a resolution opposing the increase until further fundraising took place to build the library. This is the Council that should have been completely in favor as it benefited their residents the most. As a result and I'm sure other items were involved as well, the tea party got invovled and the library board decided to put it on the ballot. An increase that I was once in favor for, I will now be voting against because of 5 council members in Alexandria who did not do what was best for their citizens. sad.

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  8. I see both sides of this debate.. but I agree with you that we should look into "buying an already built facility for a MUCH smaller price tag to make it a small satellite office which has timely deliveries of requested materials".. this seems to make more sense.

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  9. A 27% increase is not false! Let's do the math on the median value of a home in Campbell County. The numbers will be rounded up or down accordingly$151,500.00 X .00074= 112.00 (what this person currently pays)

    $151,500.00 X .00094= $142.00 (what this person will be paying which is a $30.00 increase)

    $112.00 X 0.27% = $30.00

    Please keep in mind that some will be seeing an increase that will raise their library property tax alone to over $500.00 per year.

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  10. RAISING the tax 27% IS false. It would only RAISE the tax by TWO percent above what we're already paying.
    which, as pointed out, would be a $30 increase for a 150,000 home.
    Really -if your home is valued at 500,000, your additional tax would STILL be UNDER 100.00.
    I doubt 100.00 would be an issue for someone in a half million dollar home.
    Why would you not want to better your community/county?!?!

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  11. WAIT! Has anyone been to Falmouth recently? There is nobody out there! Population Density is concentrated in the Northern part of the county. (Hint, where the people are!) And subsequently where the libraries are.
    But, maybe if we build it they will come.
    Unfair tax burden on a population that will never use the new service. Shameful to raise taxes when the country is teetering on the verge on another recession AND bad fiscal policy.
    Raise taxes to make your schools better, then you will have a population increase(good schools attract families) and the county will get more tax revenue from more households.
    Then build your library.

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  12. Some on needs to go back to math class because it IS a 27% increase!

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  13. Here's my basic thought on the Tea Party. They take advantage of what tax paid dollars have to offer - i.e. libraries, roads and parks, but yet when it comes time to maintain these amenities, they never want to contribute their fair share.
    I don't understand the thought process there.

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  14. In a perfect world the Tea Party folks could opt out of taxes but then not be allowed to take advantage of our public offerings such as parks, roads, schools, police, firefighters and libraries.
    Sort of a pay to play theory.

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  15. Fair share? I didn't realize this vote was to give the library their fair share of my tax dollars.

    Is the library at compacity? Are they turning away people because they cannot serve them? Are there people in the southern part of the county demanding a libary in their back yard? Is there really a NEED for this right now? If you can answer positively to all of these questions then how about we do a little test run at this.

    Spend a small amount of money to lease a facility and test a location for a year or two, then assess. Maybe there is demand for it or maybe the location could be better placed in the community. At least you would have versility to adjust instead of blowing 5 million and making a stab in the dark. Do we really need to spend a ton of money for a big beautiful building or can we build a simple functional building for much less money or remodel an existing building.

    If the library board were spending their own money they would be evaluating alternatives and comparing costs like most fiscally responsible people do. Instead they go out and try to buy a new house then make everyone else pay for it regardless if they want or need it.

    Consider all of these issues before you vote because the library board apparently doesn't.

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  16. Anti-library folks are being extremely short-sighted. A new library would be a fantastic boost to the quality of life in Southern Campbell County. Would residents rather see our community grow, improve and prosper or remain stagnant? "If you build it, they will come" kind of mentality is a good way of looking at it. If the community offers things like libraries stores and restaurants, people will want to move here. Property values will go up. Do nothing and the county goes nowhere. Your property values continue to decline. The $20 - $40 extra most homeowners will have to pay in taxes will more than be made up by the improved property value of having a beautiful new library so close. One has to look to the future and work on improving where you live. Being tight-fisted and refusing to spend any money gets you nowhere. After all there is no truer truism - you got to spend money to make money.

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  17. Boone County build a huge library on Route 18 a few years ago. Did property values suddenly increase because of this? Most people want low taxes, low crime rate and a good economy when searching for a home. Libraries don't make the list when you talk to realtors.

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  18. I am appallled that when so many people are unemployed or under employed that anyone would consider a tax increase for a non necessity. I love libraries and the resources they offer the community, but I do not understand the idea of taxing and spending.

    I am certainly not opposed to a library in the south part of the county. I just strongly believe in raising the funds prior to building. In my household, when I want something, I save for it. Most of the time I have to give up other things in order to save. I don't have the luxury to tax anyone.

    Over spending has gotten our country into a financial mess, do we want Campbell County to go the same route.

    Let's remember that this tax of $0.02/$100 in property value is added to the $.074/$100 in value we are already paying. And yes, that is a 27% increase. The taxes have no end and they just keep increasing. Here's another idea, how about proposing a 5 year tax that has an end.

    Vote No on more taxes!

    Melanie E

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