The St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees approved a tax levy ballot issue at their meeting on April 16, aimed at long overdue renovations and replacements of the library's aging facilities and enhancements to programs, collections and services.
The proposed 6 cent increase, which will appear on the November 2012 ballot, is the first increase the library has requested of voters since 1983.
St. Louis County Library recently contracted to update the district's Facilities Master Plan. The findings, which are posted on the library's website (www.slcl.org), indicate the need for significant capital improvements in order to meet growing community needs. The tax levy would allow SLCL to address immediate challenges to its branches including leaky roofs, outdated HVAC, and other costly problems, while offering a bold plan for the next 10 years, to include new branch buildings, enhanced areas for children and teens, more meeting space for community groups and more comfortable and welcoming facilities.
St. Louis County Library was the busiest library in Missouri in 2011, circulating over 12 million items. It was a year of record growth for the system, with over 5.7 million people visiting library branches. According to Library Director Charles Pace, "We've been thrilled by the Library's growth and the active participation of the whole community. We're excited about building a solid future for the Library so we can continue to provide quality programs and resources that St. Louis County residents rely on."
Pace said that the Library Board is confident that, despite difficult economic times, voters will support the value of the library system to children, families and seniors and understand that buildings more than 30 years old need significant repair or replacement.
"There is no question that our Library and its branches are an integral part of our community, a vast educational asset and the core of our educational system outside the schools," Pace said. "This is an investment that will be returned many times over well into the future."
The St. Louis County Library has more than 30,000 children in its summer reading programs and has become an important community resource, providing computer classes and access to computers and the Internet for critical needs like finding jobs and completing online applications--significant and life-changing assistance in a tough economy. It provides a safe place for teens to socialize, study and prepares children for school through early literacy initiatives.
The proposed increase would cost the average homeowner around $17.10 a year based on the County's average $158,000 home-- a small price to pay for a vibrant public library system. An independently funded tax campaign, as required by law, will commence shortly. Questions about the ballot issue should be directed to SLCL Director Charles Pace at 314-994-3300.