At least one branch of the Campbell County Public Library could close in 2014 if the library has to revert to a tax rate set in 1978 and cut spending by more than half.
The remaining two libraries would be closed on Sundays and their hours shortened. Children’s outreach would be eliminated, programs and personnel slashed and the library materials collection allocation cut nearly by half, according to tentative library budgets.
Campbell County Public Library is appealing a Circuit Court judge’s ruling in April saying the library has used the wrong law to raise taxes since 1979.
Attorney Jeffrey Mando, on behalf of the Campbell County library district, said he is asking the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear the appeal – skipping an intermediate, Court of Appeals phase to expedite the case.
Until there is a ruling, the county’s library officials said they will not know if their slashed budget scenario will play out.
“There's no doubt there will be irreparable harm caused to the library, the people who work here and the businesses we do business with if we have to use a tax rate from 35 years ago,” said library spokeswoman Kiki Dreyer Burke.
The library system is preparing two budgets.
One uses the 1978, 3-cent tax rate per $100 of assessed property value, which amounts to about $2 million. The other uses the current rate of 7.7 cents per $100, which provides $4.6 million.
Additional sources of annual income are:
• Donations – $16,000.
• Fees and Services – $38,000.
• Grants and state aid – $156,045.
• Miscellaneous income – $1,300.
“The idea of having to go back to the 3-cent rate after we’ve worked so hard and so long to build the three branches is pretty devastating,” said Rebecca Kelm, president of the Campbell County Library board of trustees.
The board will consider both budgets Tuesday at its meeting at the Cold Spring Branch.
“The board feels they have to plan for the worst-case scenario,” Library Director J.C. Morgan said.
Neither he nor the board has determined which library branch – Cold Spring, Carrico/Fort Thomas or Newport – would be closed if that worst case becomes a reality.
“We have to plan for the optimistic and yet be realistic,” Kelm said. “We’ve always been very careful, planned and thorough.
No agreement in talks between plaintiffs, library
The lawyer for plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the Campbell County Public Library said the library is using scare tactics. “Their tactic is to try and scare people in closures of libraries,” said Brandon Voelker.
He said the plaintiffs are offering solutions to the problem, but the district is not interested. “We said we would try and work toward a solution – mail out petitions to get a poll signed, ask the people what they want,” he said.
“We’ve thrown out idea after idea. The problem is, with an appeal, there will be a winner and a loser. They’re playing with, I guess, a loaded gun.”
Mando, the library district’s attorney, said the conversations with Voelker did not settle the differences between the library and the plaintiffs.
“We offered proposals,” Mando said. “We could not accept their proposals. They could not produce any assurance that we would not still be sued by another citizen or group of citizens. We could not secure finality that they would bring litigation to a close.”
Kenton County Public Library is in the same state of uncertainty, and Voelker said library officials there have refused to meet with him on behalf of the plaintiffs he represents.
Circuit Court judges in both Campbell and Kenton counties ruled in April that the libraries have improperly raised taxes for the past 35 years. A similar lawsuit in Boone County is pending.
The Kenton County Public Library district filed an appeal last week, said its attorney, Michael Hawkins.
Attorneys on both sides believe the Kentucky Supreme Court might hear the cases together because the rulings from the lower courts are essentially the same.
Though the rulings could roll back tax rates for both districts, Kenton and Campbell library officials are taking different approaches as the deadline to set their fiscal year 2013-2014 budgets nears.
Kenton Library Director David Schroeder is working on one budget based on the district’s current tax rate of 11.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. He isn’t creating another based on the library system’s 1978 tax rate of 6 cents per $100.
“We’re carrying on as normal,” Schroeder said, noting the budget can be modified at any time of the year.
Schroeder said it was premature to provide details of the budget because he is still working on it. Last year’s general operating budget for the Kenton County district was just more than $12.2 million, he said.
Library boards typically approve their budgets around May. The budgets must be submitted to the counties’ fiscal courts by June 1, and the tax rates are generally set in July or August, library officials from both districts said.
The appeals ruling could set a precedent for libraries in 79 counties with libraries created by petition under the same law. The Kentucky Department of Library and Archives had directed libraries to follow a law passed by the General Assembly in 1978 that gave special districts the ability to raise taxes up to a rate that would generate 4 percent more revenue than the previous year.
Campbell Circuit Judge Ward and Kenton Circuit Judge Summe ruled in separate cases filed by residents active in the tea party in both counties that the libraries can raise tax revenue only through a petition signed by 51 percent of registered voters.
Attorneys for the districts argued that a separate state law, passed in 1979, made libraries special taxing districts – and that’s what allows them to raise tax rates without voter approval.
By Terry DeMio
/The Kentucky Enquirer
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed House Bill 207 that unites the state’s two Career and Technical Education (CTE) systems under the guidance of Kentucky’s Department of Education.
The goal is to create a unified, more relevant and efficient system to educate and prepare students for the world of work in a real-life setting.
“Our students need an education system that provides job-training and learning opportunities that will prepare them with the skills today’s businesses require,” said Gov. Beshear. “Recognizing the valuable role that CTE plays is an essential part of building a viable, competitive workforce.”
The legislation, which codifies an executive order signed by Gov. Beshear in August 2012, is part of a larger effort to prepare students for a wider range of career options through high-quality CTE programs. There is a statewide movement to make these programs more accessible earlier, more academically rigorous and better aligned with postsecondary requirements and employer needs.
For example, the Kentucky Board of Education has adopted a college and career readiness measure that includes an academic component and a technical skill component. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) offers dual credit opportunities so that high school students can earn college credit. Kentucky provides funds from the Carl D. Perkins CTE Basic Grant to encourage secondary and postsecondary institutions to develop innovative career pathways.
“Career and technical education directly connects learning and jobs for our students and provides them with engaging real-world opportunities so that they can transition to higher education or employment with ease,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “This move is a key strategy in our efforts to ensure college and career readiness for all students.”
The legislation also establishes a CTE Advisory Committee that will provide guidance in the design and implementation of programs that give all students the best possible opportunity for career preparation in a unified system.
“House Bill 207 places career and technical education in the Kentucky Department of Education where it will receive the emphasis it should,” said Rep. Wilson Stone, of Scottsville, who sponsored the bill. “No function of our public schools is more important than seeing that our young people are being prepared for successful careers as they grow into productive adults.”“Providing our students with quality access to career and technical school education effectively combines our state’s teaching efforts with job creation,” said Sen. Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green. “I am hopeful that the overhaul of our career and technical education system, initiated through the Governor’s Executive Order last year and implemented through HB207’s passage, will provide enhanced opportunity for our students to continue their higher education at in-state colleges and universities, and will further our mission to improve Kentucky’s economic growth.”
“Higher education has been and continues to be a cornerstone in developing our economy and improving our workforce,” said Rep. Jim DeCesare, of Bowling Green. “Bowling Green has reaped the benefits of having outstanding colleges and universities like Western Kentucky University, and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. It is my hope the reorganization of our community and technical community college system will spur continuing efforts to increase the number of Kentuckians with college degrees, and lead to more growth in our business community.”
“This legislation is a logical step forward for career and technical education, and it will better ensure that our students have what they need to succeed,” said Rep. Jody Richards, of Bowling Green. “It’s easily one of the most important education laws we passed this legislative session.”The signing ceremony was held at Western Kentucky University’s Small Business Accelerator in the Center for Research and Development. The Small Business Accelerator provides clients with business support services and community resources to help them survive and grow during the start-up period. It is currently home to 17 technology-based businesses.
The Lawrence County Humane Society Board of Directors would like to extend a huge thank you to members of the community and sponsors whose participation and generous support helped make this year’s Walk for the Animals the most successful to date.
The number of walk participants as well as amount of funds raised significantly exceeded the past five years. This event is the largest fundraiser of the year for this nonprofit organization and these funds will help provide proper care for the animals at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter.
The Board expresses their heartfelt gratitude and has hopes for an even more exciting, successful event next year.
Lawrence County Humane Society Board of Directors
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