Lawsuit Updates

Updated September 21, 2016

In January 2012, a group of three Campbell County citizens sued the Campbell County Public Library over the ruling statute on adjusting annual tax rates.  The plaintiffs held that the Library must use KRS 173 and complete a petition to raise or lower its tax rates. The Library contested that tax rates must adjust annually, the same as with all other taxing districts, in order to comply with KRS 132.   This statute limits all taxing districts to adopting rates that would produce approximately the same revenue as the previous tax year and outlines procedures for exceeding those rates.

On December 10, 2015, the Court of Appeals decided in favor of the Library and “harmonized” the two conflicting statutes (KRS 173 and KRS 132) on setting a library’s annual tax rate. Their decision upholds the Library’s use of KRS 132 to adjust tax rates on an annual basis to maintain revenues at approximately the same level as the preceding tax year.  If a library requires additional funds and adopts a rate that would produce more than a 4% increase in revenue, then it would have to do a petition/referendum to secure the new, higher rate.  The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Kentucky Supreme Court and were denied a hearing, effectively upholding the Court of Appeals’ decision.  The case was then “remanded” (or sent back) to the Campbell County Circuit for closure.

On February 8, 2016, the Library moved for summary judgment to end all remaining issues as the central matter had been resolved by the Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs filed a motion that sought to hold the Campbell County Public Library accountable for not following the Court of Appeals’ decision during previous tax years.  The Library held that the Court of Appeals’ decision was not retroactive and that it wasn’t possible to anticipate the harmonization of the Court of Appeals prior to the 2015 decision.

On September 16, 2016, Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward ruled in Campbell Circuit Court that the Court of Appeals’ decision was not retroactive and that the ruling of the Kentucky Court of Appeals should be applied prospectively.

“We hope that this ruling will now end the litigation against the Library,” said Cathy Howard, board president. “We have spent years fighting this litigation and it’s time to move forward, put it behind us, and focus on our future for the good of Campbell County.”

 

Summary/Overview

  • A lawsuit was filed in January 2012 that held public libraries should be following Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 173.790. Libraries had been following KRS 132 in setting their annual tax rates.
  • In April 2013, Campbell Circuit Court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor. The Library filed an appeal.
  • On March 19, 2015, the Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the Library acted in good faith according to the correct statute in determining its annual tax rates. Read the Kentucky Court of Appeals March 19 decision {PDF}
  • On April 20, 2015, the litigants against the Library filed a Motion for Discretionary Review with the Kentucky Supreme Court.
  • On December 10, 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court let stand the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
  • On February 8, 2016, the Library moved for summary judgment to end all remaining issues as the central matter had been resolved by the Court of Appeals.
  • On March 18, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the Campbell County Circuit Court to consider the Court of Appeals’ decision retroactive and to order a refund for previous tax years. The Library contended the Court of Appeals intended its new harmonization of the conflicting statutes to be applied to only to future tax years.
  • On September 16, 2016, Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward ruled that the Court of Appeals’ decision should be considered prospectively only, upholding the Library’s position. {PDF}

Frequently Asked Questions

What does this mean for the South Branch? Are you planning to proceed with building plans?

A: The decision to begin construction of the South Branch resides with the Board. The board has no plans to start discussions about building a south branch in the near future. We still own the land at 1045 Parkside Ave. in Alexandria, KY, and fundraising continues in hopes we will be able to build there one day.

There are a lot of people who want you to build the South Branch, as well as people who are against raising taxes to build a new location. When will you decide?

A: In a survey conducted in 2015 there were differences of opinion about whether a new library is needed in southern Campbell County. Until the people give us a clear mandate to proceed, or we are able to raise money to support a new library, building plans are on hold.  In addition to building a library, we also must have the budget to maintain operations such as developing a full collection and hiring staff.  The reality is the people of Campbell County will need to approve a tax increase for us to be able to build on that site and provide full library services.

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