Some Forest Park residents who have already signed on in support of the referendum the Forest Park Public Library hopes to seek this November may soon receive another visit from a member of the library’s referendum committee.
The library will have to restart its petition drive in order to get a referendum on the ballot due to a technical change in the state’s tax cap law which was passed by the state legislature last month.
According to Karen Childs, the chair of the library’s referendum committee, the library had already collected 300 signatures, well over the 100 signature minimum required to get a referendum on the ballot.
“The change was made retroactive back to March, so we have to start all over,” she said. Now we have two or three weeks to get all the signatures.” Still, Childs said she did not anticipate the library having any trouble getting the signatures it needs.
Previously, in order to receive a tax increase the library planned to ask that its property tax rate be raised from .234 percent of every hundred dollars of equalized assessed valuation (EAV) to .346 percent, an increase of about 32 percent.
Now, the library will instead seek that the limiting rate for funds for the library be increased by .150 percent from the 2005 limiting rate of .196, from tax year 2006 to 2009. The effect still results in the library’s tax rate being raised to .346 of the equalized assessed value.
The reworded referendum would temporarily relieve the library of its duty to follow state tax cap laws, which limit annual funding increases to the lesser of either 5 percent or the year’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“Essentially we’d be guaranteed a new limiting rate instead of being limited by tax caps for four years,” said Library director Rodger Brayden. After 2009, the library’s income from the previous year will be the basis for the re-imposition of tax cap limitations, he said.
“I think the most important thing is that the rate will be the same rate as the previously circulated petition indicated. The nature of the request is somewhat different but the rate does not change” said Brayden.
The library’s budget for the current fiscal year is $731,000. The library board voted in May to seek a referendum in the Nov. 7 general election, which, officials hope, would allow the library to increase its spending on staff salaries and circulating materials by 20 percent, permitting it to fill several positions left vacant by recent layoffs and pay competitive wages to its employees.