Kentucky libraries and their patrons have won

On Dec. 10, the Kentucky Supreme Court let stand the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on March 19 that the Library acted in good faith in determining its annual tax rates. The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to reconsider the appeals court ruling and denied the motion for discretionary review submitted by the appellants.

“We are thrilled and relieved,” said Cathy Howard, board president. “This is a great victory for libraries all across the state.  Libraries do so much good for the community.  We have always been open and accountable to the taxpayers.  It’s a relief the courts have affirmed libraries have been following the laws as the legislators intended.  We are all very happy this litigation is behind us.”

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 Library continues its capital campaign and still owns property at 1045 Parkside Avenue in Alexandria, Kentucky.

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: This decision rests with the Library’s Board of Trustees.

What does this legal decision do to the current tax rate?

A: The current tax of 7.7% per $100 of real property tax remains the same for the current tax year. By order of the Court of Appeals, this tax rate has been the same since 2012. The December 10 decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the Library has been setting its tax rate according to the correct statute for the past 35 years.  The decision does not, however, have any immediate impact on the tax rate.

What do you plan to do when it’s time to select next year’s tax rate?

A: The Board is very happy that the Court has upheld the Library’s reliance on the correct statute in setting its annual tax rates.  The Library will operate going forward in accordance with the Court’s decision.  The tax rate will be discussed by the Library’s Board of Trustees and that decision will be made next fall.

History of the litigation

  • 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.
  • 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.

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