Wednesday night, Jim Ritter, moderator of the Daniel Boone Regional Library Board’s Election Review Committee meetings, faced a group that had convened to discuss why a property tax increase on the April 3 ballot failed by such a wide margin. The tax would have funded two new Boone County libraries.
The libraries would have been built in Ashland and at the Boone County Fairgrounds. Most of the 10 residents in attendance lived within the city limits of Columbia but outside of the Columbia Library District.
The library district includes all of the land within the 1965 city boundaries, while the Boone County Library District consists of everything outside those limits. The proposed 21-cent property tax would have affected only those residents living within the Boone County Library District.
Columbia residents that live outside the 1965 city limits would have paid the proposed 21-cent tax even though they wouldn’t have been likely to use either the Ashland or the northern Boone County branches.
“I’ve talked to my neighbors, and I heard everyone say that they will never vote to pay for any library in Ashland,” said Kevin Begley, a new Columbia resident.
The library board reminded residents that anyone living outside the 1965 Columbia city limits does not pay the 29-cent property tax that funds the 2000 Columbia Public Library renovation.
“What you’re talking about are things that most Columbians don’t know,” Begley said.
Many in attendance advised the library board to raise more public awareness to help sell its plans to the community. Others cited a distrust the community has after the Columbia Public Library was renovated.
“There is a lack of credibility between the population and the library board,” said Steve Callus, a Columbia resident. “The building promoted wasn’t exactly what we got. A lot of people believe that.”
Many Columbia residents don’t think that the word “renovation” is correct for a project that resulted in the library being almost torn to the ground.
Tom Richards, the organizer of the Election Review Committee, said that the library board got a few new ideas from Wednesday’s meeting, including the suggestion to try to lease several small buildings in different locations.
“Each of these meetings is going to have a different twist,” he said. “We’re going to have to come up with a plan that fits the needs of everyone.”
The Daniel Boone Regional Library is encouraging people to send any comments they have on the issue to firstname.lastname@example.org.