Daviess County Public Library chooses compensating tax rate

Erin Waller, Daviess County Library Director

The Daviess County Public Library's board of directors have unanimously voted to adopt the compensating rate for fiscal year 2019-20, which will lower the library's tax rate from last year.

In reality, the library, like the Daviess Fiscal Court, is a taxing agency that depends on tax revenue for its daily operations and, like the county, each year is given an option on how they wish to handle their tax revenue. Based off state assessments, the library can take the compensating rate, leave the taxes the same or increase property taxes up to, but not exceeding 4%, unless decided by a public vote. Library officials chose to adopt the compensating rate at its Wednesday board meeting, which will give the library the same revenue that it had last year.

While the library's rates have gone down, if a taxpayer's property assessment has increased, their tax will increase by virtue of their assets increasing in value.

The decision lowers the library's tax rates across the board, said Library Director Erin Waller.

"This year's estimated budget with aid and everything else is $4,849,962," she said. "(The state) gives us an estimated revenue that is never quite what it really is. We estimate less than they do. They estimate $4.8 million, and of course, we get state money through KDLA, for state aid and grants, but the vast majority of the revenue is through local taxes."

Aside from a real property tax of 6.3%, down from last year's 6.4%, the library also gains revenue through tangible personal property, aircraft, watercraft, inventory; all of which are at 7.57%, down from 8.04% last year, as well as from the motor vehicles tax, which the library always keeps at 4%.

"The money goes toward salaries, benefits, purchasing, programming marketing, capital expenses, contracts, technology, repairs and maintenance,” she said. “Everything that we do is dependent on this revenue.”

As far as government agencies go, it might be easy to write-off the potential political and fiscal obstacles that a library faces, especially compared to that of city, county or state governments. The irony is, library officials face the same short- and long-term issues, she said.

"This year, I feel good about it," she said. "However, I am looking at things like this pension issue and how it will affect us five or 10 years from now. If the increases happen, then there may come a day where we have to think about how we can get additional monies for those contributions. For now, there is no issue in terms of funding staff, programs, really anything in the library. We feel confident enough to accept this reduced compensating rate."

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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