Library tax failure seen as Hallsville opportunity

Town meetings this week will help board members plan for the Boone County Library District’s future.
Monday, May 21, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:51 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Almost as soon as the April 3 election results were made public, Susan Daly got busy. For about one month, Daly filed through school data and census reports, called town meetings and evaluated public interest. The Hallsville resident, school board member and assistant vice president of the Bank of Missouri found herself donning one more title — library activist.

All this work led Daly and other community members to one conclusion: Hallsville deserves a permanent library. At least as deserving as Ashland, where the Daniel Boone Regional Library Board of Trustees had proposed a new Boone County branch.

Meeting Times

    The Boone County Library District board will hold three meetings next week to get feedback on the April tax issue that would have financed new libraries in Ashland and north Columbia. The meetings will be held at:
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Hallsville Community Center
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Boone County Government Center
  • 7 p.m. Thursday at the Southern Boone County Senior Center in Ashland

That proposal is at a standstill since voters in the Boone County Library District overwhelmingly rejected a property tax increase that would have funded the new Ashland library as well as one at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

What residents of Hallsville saw in the failed tax measure was an opportunity for their town, and they seized it.

Daly, accompanied by an informal Hallsville library committee, presented her findings May 10 to the library board. A large portion of the Hallsville contingent’s argument relies on demographics.

Daly, citing the 2000 census and other data, told the library board that Hallsville and Ashland are nearly identical in every population category. Hallsville even has a building lined up for a library: a 3,000-square-foot house owned by Hallsville resident Chad Sayre.

“We’re not in any hurry,” Daly said. “But if there’s going to be a new library built in northern Boone County, we would like to be considered.”

Several library trustees said they were impressed by the planning and support behind Hallsville’s proposal.

“I thought it was well-put, but they sprung it on us rather quickly,” said Tiff Lauffer, president of the Boone County Library District Board. “As of now, we only have the resources to take care of the main library in Columbia, the small one in Ashland and the one in Callaway County.”

The Boone County Library District is part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library system, which also operates in Callaway County with a library in Fulton. The Columbia library has its own board of trustees.

Lauffer said that if a branch in Hallsville were to be considered, it would take more than two years to work it into the library system’s budget.

“It was a five-year process to get a library in Ashland,” he said. “If Hallsville continues to plan and show interest, it is a possibility. But they have to give us time to work it into our budget.”

The Boone County Library Board isn’t making any new plans until after three town meetings that will be held next week in Hallsville, Columbia and Ashland. The purpose of these meetings is to evaluate why the tax proposal showed such little support in the community.

“The first question we want to answer is whether there is support and need for additional library facilities, regardless of the location,” said Lynn Hostetler, president of the library’s regional board.

“We want to know what it was that community members disliked about the proposal,” said Tom Richards, vice president of the Columbia District Board and organizer of the town meetings. “Is it that they are just opposed to the idea of a new tax? Is it the proposed locations? Is it the architecture of the buildings? We want to find the answers to those questions before making any further plans.”

Richards said he doesn’t think the problem is that people don’t want any new facilities. Instead, he said, it be that the Daniel Boone Regional Library system serves such a large community and a wide variety of people.

“The only way to get financial support is to find something for everyone,” he said. “If we can’t find a plan that would get support from enough people, then we would have to continue to look for ways to serve the community through our outreach programs. We will just have to be more creative with the resources that we already have.”

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