The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

April 24, 2014

Montour County library tax up in the air

DANVILLE — A proposed one-tenth of a mill library tax would result in a property owner paying $10 extra in real estate taxes and not $1 as originally announced.

“We have a lot of reservations about that with people oppressed by property taxes. We don’t feel we want to put a greater burden of this magnitude,” Kathy McWilliams, treasurer of the Thomas Beaver Free Library in Danville, told the Montour County commissioners Tuesday night.

She asked the commissioners to come up with other suggestions to help the library receive money. The commissioners vowed to do more research to see if there is anything else they can do to help the library.

She suggested a per capita tax but Commissioners Chairman Trevor Finn said the county already has a $5 per capita tax he believes is at its limit.

He encouraged the library board to consider a referendum for a library tax but possibly at a lesser amount than one-tenth of a mill.

The commissioners earlier approved the referendum and said the library board would have to obtain enough signatures on a petition to place the question on the November ballot.

Ninety-three signatures would be required which amount to 2 percent of what the largest vote-getter received in the last election.

Finn said the announcement about the proposed tax amounting to $1 on a property valued at $100,000 was his fault. “I was thinking one-tenth of a mill on $1,000 and didn’t multiply out the $100,000,” he said.

He said the library also has to come up with the wording for the referendum which needs to be the same as the petition. The first step would be for an attorney to prepare the wording. “There are probably attorneys who will do that pro bono,” he said.

He suggested if the library circulate a petition it not go to friends of the library but to a broad spectrum of county residents for signatures. That way they can gauge how successful the referendum will be.

McWilliams asked about the possibility of Rush Township and Riverside residents included in a referendum. Finn said the library board would have to approach those municipalities about placing the question on the ballot since they are in Northumberland County.

With the one-tenth of a mill library tax, library officials estimated they could raise $117,000 each year.

With the library receiving less contributions, it has been forced to dip into investments to balance its budget each year.

Library supporters attended a commissioners’ meeting in December and said the lack of a county contribution reduces their state allocation.

The commissioners said the county’s general fund doesn’t contain money for discretionary funds and hasn’t for some time.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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