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Friday, October 19, 2012

Library a Value to Entire Community

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.

$31.20.  Essentially, the argument boils down to $31.20.  That is the equivalent of 6.78 Venti Two-pump pumpkin soymilk iced chai tea lattes.  Would I give up nearly seven of these delicious drinks to support the literacy of all residents of the county and to grant fair and equal access to resources no matter the street address?  My answer is a resounding yes!

The median home value in Fort Thomas is $156,000 according to Zillow.  The proposed tax is an increase from 7.4 cents to 9.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, which equates to an annual average of $31.20 per Fort Thomas household.  For this marginal increase, the residents of the southern part of the county would get access to a new library and all of the amazing benefits to their children and society that comes with it.

This is not a bailout for fiscally irresponsible existing libraries.  This is not a tax to prop up an institution that is outdated and irrelevant.  The Phillip N. Carrico branch is thriving, constantly busy and always running community and children’s events.  We are all residents of Campbell County; why should my son have better access to resources than the son of a California, KY resident?

Additionally, the advertisements against the proposed tax, while accurate, are intentionally misleading.  The Tea Party argues that with this tax, the “devil is in the details” (according to which must be why they leave the details out.  This is not a 27% increase to property taxes; it is a 27% increase to the tax specifically allocated to the library.

The obvious argument is one of limited government and a question of the need for this resource.  After all, from Fort Thomas, all three branches are less than 4 miles away.  But this is about providing access for all residents of the county.  It is obvious that, despite their adamant opposition to the tax, even the Tea Party can agree with the need for the library; after all, they showed a movie at the Kenton County Library branch last night.

By: Jessica Duke (Mama on a Budget)


  1. Have you considered the fact that the library board may have been raising the library portion of our property taxes unlawfully for more than 20 years.
    As much as you may dislike the Tea Party, some members of the TP recently discovered that the Library Board wasn't following the lawful procedure for increasing our taxes as spelled out in the Kentucky Revised Statutes(KRS), the law.
    In defense of the Library Board, they probably didn't know the right procedure. They inherited this procedure from previous boards. If any blame is to be placed it should be on the lawyers retained by the board who should know this sort of thing. Yeah, right!
    On the other hand, the library board has been notified of their error, but has chosen to go ahead using the same method of tax increases, and choosing to push forward with the proposed library.
    The method that the library board has been using to increase taxes has been the same insidious method that the infamous HB44 passed into law some years ago. That is the "compensating rate" method. It means that a taxing district is able to raise taxes to be sure that it receives at least the same amount of income it did the previous year. If property values are falling, and the taxing district isn't going to get the same amount as last year, they can increase our tax rate to "compensate" for it. (Wanna bet it goes back down when the revenue goes up?)
    Read the KRS closely and you'll see that it does not apply to our library taxes.
    Law suits have been filed about this matter. It appears that some prominent judges have chosen to pass the buck for obvious political reasons. They don't want to lose any votes. It will be interesting to see how the judges, with some twisted logic, or lame excuse, squirm out of making a decision.
    If the lawsuits prevail, then refunds could be due for property owners for some previous years.
    It comes down to a matter of law. Do we follow the law, or not? If we don't like the law, then work to change it. If we start ignoring this law, or that law, then which laws are of any value?
    Shouldn't the Library board put the proposed library on the shelf until the lawful issue is settled?
    If they have to give refunds, will they have the money to even operate the libraries we have now?
    Of course those who so much want the new facility could volunteer to pay for it themselves.

  2. Actually, the Campbell County Tea Party meets regularly at the Cold Spring Branch of the Library. We had about 2000 meetings in our rooms last year from all kinds of groups. I spoke with a man today, in Fort Thomas, who doesn't have a computer at home and uses the library in Fort Thomas regularly. That man is part of the vision of people like Andrew Carnegie who saw the library as the people's university. And that it truly is. JC Morgan, Library Director

  3. The Library was formed in 1978. KRS 132 which is the law used by the Library to set its tax rates went into effect in 1979. KRS 132 covers cities, counties, and special taxing districts like the Library. Advertising the rate proposed twice in the local newspaper is required. An advertised public hearing is required if the rate is raised. This statute is the one the Library has been following. In the current situation, the Board exceeded the 4% increase allowed by KRS 132 in order to build and construct the South Branch. The Board waived any/all petitions and asked for the County Clerk to place the question about the tax increase on the ballot. Nothing could have been more open or fair. JC Morgan, Library Director