Saturday, June 9, 2012

PB Makes History for Library Funding in MO

THANK YOU to the voters of Poplar Bluff for making this library truly unique and allowing us to be on the cutting edge!  We are the first library in Missouri to transition from property tax support to being funded by a sales tax.  The old saying "it takes an act of Congress" certainly applies here.  In this case, it took the Missouri State Legislature and the signature of the Governor to allow this to even be voted on.

The future of the library looks very bright and the Library Board has many choices to make on how the timeline of the changes to be made unfold.  Their next meeting will be July 2, at 4 PM in the Conference Room and, as always, the public is welcome to attend.  Stop in for it and watch out future start to take shape!

Below is an article from the Daily American Republic with additional details.  Thanks again to everyone that made this possible!!

Library sales tax passes
A milestone for Missouri
By DAVID SILVERBERG Associate Editor
  The Poplar Bluff Public Library will become the first one in Missouri to be funded with sales tax revenue.
Library personnel, board members and supporters celebrated when Butler County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall announced the results of Tuesday’s special election.  
Poplar Bluff voters approved a one-fourth cent sales tax for the library by a vote of 421 to 145.
Now the library board will eliminate the city property tax for the library, a city subsidy of approximately $80,000 annually and the $35 library card fee for area residents living outside of Poplar Bluff.
City residents had been paying $14 in property taxes per each $10,000 of valuation. When collection of the additional one-fourth cent sales tax begins in October, everyone who spends $100 in Poplar Bluff will pay 25 cents for the library sales tax.
“I’m speechless!” was the first reaction from Jackie Thomas, the very happy library director.
A library staff member told Thomas, “Now you can sleep.”
“Poplar Bluff continues to impress me. I arrived 15 years ago and I have been on a high since then,” Thomas said. “This has been a dream so long. Now it is a reality. Now we will do what we planned to do.”
Thomas said the library will now have sufficient funds to expands its hours, be open on Sunday afternoon, have additional “virtual library” locations and “Wi-Fi” access points, double the book budget, have access to more computers, build a teacher curriculum collection, add bookmobile service, develop more outreach programs for children and adults and continue to offer computer classes and Tech Talks.
The library’s current revenues of nearly $500,000 are expected to double with the sales tax revenue.  
“I’m elated the voters of Poplar Bluff once again recognized the importance of supporting the future of the public library,” said John Stanard, a library board member for 18 years. “We are proud of our library. This is a landmark decision for ongoing success of that fine institution.”
Stanard noted the library and community will benefit from this sales tax revenue just as it has from the sales taxes for the Poplar Bluff Parks Department and the Highway 67 four-laning project.
Library board members worked for three years to convince the state legislature to allow libraries to have a vote on a proposed sales tax.
With the help of state Rep. Todd Richardson and state Sen. Rob Mayer, a bill was passed to allow libraries only in Senate District 25 to have a sales tax vote.
Missouri State Librarian Margaret Conroy described Poplar Bluff as being “the icebreaker” for being the first library in the state to pass a library sales tax.
“The Missouri State Library is very pleased for Poplar Bluff and its citizens for supporting the sales tax,” Conroy said. “We are proud of Jackie Thomas. She has worked very hard to provide adequate funding for the library.” Conroy noted the Missouri Library Association will be working on legislation to allow voting on a library sales tax statewide. “We are interested to see how this plays out and the implications for the rest of the state,” Conroy said.
Only 566 or 6.1 percent of the 9,310 active registered voters in Poplar Bluff cast ballots. “We had library patrons networking to get out the vote,” Thomas said. The votes by polling place were:
Ward 1 — 33 to 13.
Ward 2 — 116 to 33.
Ward 3 — 36 to 8.
Ward 4 — 135 to 42.
Ward 5 — 57 to 12.
Absentees — 44 to 37. 
Used with permission. (c) Daily American Republic, June 6, 2012. Vol. 144, No. 122. Pages 1 & 2.

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