Library proposes tax reduction

Director concerned drop might be too much

June 11, 2010 at 8:50 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

In October, voters will get a chance to renew the St. Charles Parish Library System’s millage at 4.5 mills, which would result in a drop in revenue of $1 million in 2012, according to Library Director Mary desBordes.

The new rates would go into effect in tax bills due Dec. 31, 2011 and be in place for 10 years.

DesBordes said she was encouraged to try to find ways to drop the millage, which was approved at 4.9 mills in 2000, but was rolled back by the council to 4.79 mills two years ago. The main reason for the reduction to 4.5 mills was that the library system is not planning on any new construction in the next 10 years.

“According to the state standard for library square feet to population, we are already overbuilt,” desBordes said. “I am glad that we have a presence in all corners of the parish and I doubt we’ll need any new construction in the next 10 years.”

There are currently five libraries in the parish, including branches in Luling, Destrehan, Hahnville, Norco and St. Rose. Construction on a new branch in Paradis broke ground two weeks ago and will cost $1.2 million. The building is scheduled to be completed in 10 months.

If the library tax rate had remained at 4.79 mills, desBordes said the library system would have collected a little over $5 million in 2012. At 4.5 mills, she is estimating that the library will collect around $3.9 million.

“I am concerned that we are dropping the millage too much,” she said. “We don’t have any new construction planned, but I don’t think our cost over the next 10 years will drop much, except in capital projects.”

DesBordes said that the library has several projects on the horizon, such as putting a new roof on the West Regional Library. She said there are also plans to open up former office space at that library to the public after all offices were moved to the new East Regional Library.

“And that’s going to cost money,” she said. “With this millage rate, we might not get those things done as quickly as we would have in the past.”

DesBordes said that library collections increased by about 6 percent each year from 2000 to 2010. She based the new millage on receiving a 3 percent increase in revenue each year.

“I’m concerned because 2012 might be tight, but we are going to have to be prudent with our spending,” she said. “That’s why we didn’t want to ask for less than 4.5 mills because the millage can’t be rolled forward past what the voters have approved.

“However, if we start getting enough income at 4.5 mills to get comfortable, the council can still roll it back.”

At 4.5 mills, the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $33.75 annually. Currently, that same home owner pays $35.93.

View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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