Daniel Boone Regional Library will host two public forums to share information on Proposition L, an operating levy increase set to appear on the April 7 ballot.
The first is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton. A second forum will take place at 5:30 p.m. March 3 at the Holts Summit Public Library. The forums will be livestreamed on Facebook.
"The current voter approved levy is no longer able to support the cost of providing robust library services," DBRL Director Margaret Conroy said. "Our goal with the tax increase is to expand the collection, to extend more services via outreach and to make permanent the branch in Holts Summit."
Proposition L proposes increasing the library's operating levy from 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 26 cents per $100. If it doesn't pass, that could spell the end for the new Holts Summit Public Library, according to the DBRL.
Callaway County's two libraries and the mobile library are supported through property taxes, which provide 96 percent of the libraries' funding. State allocations, grants and private donations cover the remaining 4 percent. Voters set the tax at 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in 1910 and increased the levy to 20 cents per $100 in 1967. They also reestablished it at 20 cents in 1999 after the Hancock Amendment rolled it back to 14 cents.
It's stayed the same ever since, even as Callaway County's population has grown and the DBRL has added services and opened its Holts Summit location. Voters have rejected three attempts to increase the levy since 1967. By contrast, in Boone County, the library operating levy ceiling was increased to 32 cents in 1999.
"We try to provide services back to the community that pays for them," Conroy said. "There are benefits to operating as a regional library — we enjoy a lot of cost efficiencies by having one IT department, one set of software to check out books, one administration and so on. But when it comes to variable costs, such as programming and purchasing materials, we rely on the income from each county. We want to make sure neither county feels like they're being taken advantage of."
DBRL estimates the levy increase would bring in up to $540,000 more per year.
The library plans to use that extra money to pay for:
An increase to the library's collection of books, music, movies, early learning kits and technology resources, such as computers and a self-checkout kiosk.
Expanded programming and delivery services to nursing homes and child care centers.
A new, safer community outreach van dedicated to Callaway County, replacing the current 13-year-old model.
Needed maintenance and updates to the original Carnegie library building in Fulton. "That building was built in 1912 and it's starting to be more and more expensive to maintain," Conroy said. "Because of those maintenance costs, we're having to cut back on things like staffing and materials."
Making the Holts Summit Public Library a permanent location and increasing its hours from 20 to 55 a week.
Hiring two full-time staff members at CCPL and around three at the HSPL, allowing staff members to spend more time conducting programs.
If the levy doesn't pass, the DBRL won't be able to purchase as many materials and sources and will have to scale back technology updates, Conroy said. Worse, the Holts Summit Public Library will either close or the library will reduce other Callaway County services to keep the Holts Summit Public Library open 20 hours a week.
More information about Proposition L is available at dbrl.org/library-levy.