Updated July 25, 2014
In Campbell County, a lawsuit was filed in January 2012 in Campbell County Circuit Court by attorney Brandon Voelker on behalf of Charlie Coleman, John P. Roth, Jr., and Erik Hermes. The plaintiffs hold that public libraries should be following Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 173.790 while the Libraries have been following KRS 132 in setting their annual tax rates.
KRS 132 states that all special taxing districts establish tax rates based on the revenue received the previous year. KRS 173.790 states that library tax rates cannot be changed except by certified petition with signatures of 51% of registered voters in that county. Campbell County Public Library has followed KRS 132 since 1979. There are 99 other public library systems in Kentucky that also follow KRS 132.
On April 1, 2013, Campbell Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhart Ward ruled that KRS 173.790 should govern the Library’s tax rate. The Library filed an appeal to that ruling with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. As of July 2014, the appeal remains under consideration by the Court.
In a separate ruling, the Court of Appeals ordered the Library's tax rate remain at the level set in 2012 until their final ruling.
Tax Rates and Implications of Ruling for Campbell County Public Library
- The 2012 tax rate is 7.7 cents per $100, or $77 on a $100,000 property. An average homeowner in Campbell County has a $150,000 property, and pays about $116 per year in library taxes.
- The 1978 tax rate was 3 cents per $100, or $30 on a $100,000 property. An average homeowner with a $150,000 property would pay about $45 a year.
- Should the three judges assigned by the Court of Appeals decide the Library’s tax rate must be rolled back to the rate set in 1978 when the library district was created, revenue would be reduced by approximately 60%.
- Revenue would decrease from current budget of $4.8 million to $1.9 million.
- To operate CCPL as it currently exists, after a 60% reduction in revenue, is impossible.
- The Library currently operates three branches (in Newport, Fort Thomas and Cold Spring).
- Current library budget for FY 2014-2015 includes $2.85 million for personnel and benefits, $1,098,000 for operating costs, $147,000 in capital expenses, and $710,000 for the circulating collection.
Impact of Loss
- Should the Library be forced to revert to the tax rate set in 1978, the people of Campbell County will feel the impact and loss of current library services.
- A 60% reduction in revenue would:
- Force the closing of one or more branches, either temporarily, on certain days of the week, or permanently.
- Reduce hours. The Library currently is open seven days a week. (12 hours each Monday through Thursday; 10 hours on Friday, 8 hours on Saturday, and 4 hours on Sunday.)
- Significantly reduce library staff from 83 employees (41 full-time and 42 part-time) to 35 employees, almost all part-time.
- Severely restrict programming for children and virtually eliminate programming for teens and adults.
- Minimalize, if not eliminate, funds to purchase and replace items in the library’s collection.
- Minimalize, if not eliminate, capital expenses for items such as the replacement of computer equipment or building repairs.
- Loans for past construction and remodeling costs must be repaid, even if a building is no longer in use.