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story.lead_photo.caption <p>Quinn Wilson/For the News Tribune</p><p>The Callaway County Library District board meets in the Friends Room at the Callaway County Public Library on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, to set the district&#8217;s 2019 tax rate and discuss the coming April 2020 tax levy. Pictured, from left, are board members Mary Fennel and Jean Howard, Daniel Boone Regional Library CFO Jim Smith, DBRL Executive Director Margaret Conroy, board President Tonya Hays-Martin, executive assistant Amanda Burke and board member Brian Warren.</p>

While the Callaway County Library District set a lower 2019 tax rate Tuesday evening, board members plan to seek an increase in the levy ceiling next year.

During a public hearing at the Callaway County Public Library, a part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library system, the district’s board unanimously approved a slightly lower tax rate for 2019. The tax rate will now be 19.57 cents per $100 of assessed value as compared to its 2018 rate of 19.98 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

“As the property values go up, there is a (Missouri) constitutional limit on how much of that gain political subdivisions are able to access,” DBRL Executive Director Margaret Conroy said. “If our levy stayed at 20 cents, we would get more and more money every year, so it’s sort of a ‘windfall prevention.’”

Conroy said these rollbacks erode the library’s ability to meet costs and perform services over time.

The library’s board will now begin working to establish ballot language for a desired tax levy increase to be put to a public vote in April 2020. According to Conroy, the library district hopes to increase the tax’s upper limit to 26 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Conroy said this tax increase will be to expand funding for the library’s ongoing outreach programs as well as having the funds for the new Holts Summit library branch to operate full time. Some of the library’s outreach programs include its “bookmobile,” after-school services for children and services to those unable to physically visit the library.

“(The tax levy increase) is for our library to be able to sustain and manage our facilities; this is a big and expensive building. Also, to grow our services more outside of our walls than they are right now,” Conroy said.

Conroy explained that the library’s tax rate has historically been 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation since it was established in 1967. However, due to Missouri’s Constitution, the library held a vote to re-establish the tax rate at 20 cents in 2000 because the tax rate had rolled back to 14 cents due to increases in property value.

The board will outline the tax levy’s specifics at a public hearing in October.

Conroy said she was unable to go into full detail regarding the expansion of services the levy increase would support.

“I don’t want to say that we’re going to do something and then it turns out in the future that we’ve got a different way of doing it, so I don’t want to make a statement that sounds like a promise,” Conroy said.

There was no public comment made during the board meeting Tuesday.

Assessed valuation in Callaway County has increased from $865,573,846 in 2018 to $902,798,841 in 2019, a 4.3 percent increase.

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