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Library keeps last year's tax rates

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'We've already spoken and I know we have no intention of doing the revenue increase.'

By Calen McKinney

The public library will keep its tax rates the same this year.

As a result, residents could pay more, less or the same amount in taxes this year, depending on whether their property value has changed since last year.

At a special Taylor County Public Library Board meeting on Thursday, library director Julia Turpin presented members with several tax rate options.

She said the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives computes the rates and provided a compensating rate and a rate that would generate 4 percent more revenue than last year.

A compensating rate is a rate that is expected to generate about the same amount as the previous year. The rate could go up or down, depending on property values.

The library's rate last year was 6.1 cents per $100 of assessed real property and 10.46 cents per $100 of personal property value.

Real property refers to land a person owns and personal property is tangible items such as equipment.

"We've already spoken and I know we have no intention of doing the revenue increase," Turpin said. "We were going to look at the compensating rate."

However, she said, the compensating rate for real and personal property this year is 6.6 cents per $100 of real property, which is what most residents pay.

"So that's quite a jump," she said. "It was a little bigger than I expected."

Turpin said she met with several other library directors recently who all said their compensating rates increased quite a bit as well.

"No one really seems to know why," Turpin said.

After seeing the compensating rate was increasing quite a bit, Turpin said she requested alternative rates from KDLA. Officials calculated several, she said, along with how much last year's rate might bring in this year.

If the rate is kept the same as last year, Turpin said, the library is expected to generate $819,000, which includes revenue from property and motor vehicle taxes. The state sets the motor vehicle tax rate.

"And based on our current budget, I don't see any problem with the $819,000, just sticking right where we are," she said.

"I think we'll be OK. We'll see what actually comes in. Of course, these are estimates."

The 2014-2015 library budget estimates it will receive $841,000 in income, of which $800,000 is from local taxes, and expenses will total $771,839.

Included in the budget is a $530,000 carryover from the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which puts the library's total revenue at $1,371,000.

The estimated $599,161 balance at the end of the 2014-2015 year is divided between reserve, bookmobile depreciation and contingency funds.

Turpin said the library's budget includes a contingency, at an estimated $326,000 for the 2014-2015 year, so if the library doesn't receive the $800,000 it has estimated in tax revenue, that will be OK.

As such, Turpin said, she recommends that board members vote to keep the 6.1 cents per $100 of assessed value rate.

"I don't see a need to increase at this point," she said.

Board treasurer Pat Webster said Board members had talked about not raising the rate, and she believes that will be good.

"And I think we're financially healthy enough to do it, right at this point," Turpin said.

Board member Mike Hall Jr. made a motion to keep the same rate this year as last. Board secretary Michele Dickens seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved. Board president Eddie Hazelwood didn't attend the meeting.

Dickens asked why the compensating rate jumped so much. Turpin said no one really knows.

As Taylor County's master commissioner, Hall said, he saw that property assessment rates didn't go down during the first few years of the recession.

"Properties weren't bringing what people were asking, so you basically saw a freeze on real estate where people weren't trading up."

Hall said that is starting to change now. Assessments in Taylor County, he said, fall two or three years behind the property market.

"I fully expected this," he said.

Hall said he believes it will be two or three more years before income will pick up again and tax rates will fall to compensate for that.

Taylor County PVA Chad Shively said properties are assessed every four years. Overall, he said, the value of all the property in Taylor County has increased by about $4 million this year.

Library board members chose the compensating tax rate last year. Board members have, in the past, chosen a rate that would generate 4 percent more in revenue in anticipation of moving to its new building. But after that, members pledged to consider the compensating rate.

At 6.6 cents per $100 of property value, Turpin said, this year's compensating rate was expected to generate $821,019. Keeping the rate the same, she said, will generate about $764,000 from property taxes.

If Board members had entertained a rate that would increase revenue by 4 percent, she said, the rate of 6.8 cents per $100 of real property value and 11.31 cents per $100 of personal property would have produced $846,014.

The library's tax rates for the 2013-2014 year generated $801,601.39, Turpin said.