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Library needs money, but not a 200% increase

The City Wire editorial
admin@thecitywire.com

The Fort Smith Public Library is deserving of a funding increase so it can better serve the community, but The City Wire does not endorse the proposal to increase millage for the library by 2 mils – from 1 mil to 3 mils.

Early voting began Aug. 5 and the special election day is Aug. 12.

Voters approved 1 mil for the library that in the first full year (1958) generated $36,000. By 1995 the amount generated from the millage totaled $627,000. In 1994, Sebastian County voters approved a 1-cent countywide sales tax of which a small portion was directed to the Fort Smith Public Library. In 1995 the library collected $596,000 from the tax, with the revenue rising to $921,000 in 2013.

In 1997, Fort Smith voters approved a more than $55 million sales tax increase to build the Fort Smith Convention Center, make improvements in and around Harry E. Kelley Park in downtown Fort Smith, and significantly expand the Fort Smith Public Library by building a new 60,000-square-foot main library and three branch libraries.

By 2013, the library system collected a total of $2.296 million from millage and the sales tax. The library system is now asking for a millage increase that would add another $2.8 million a year in revenue. Our concerns about this request and the process are threefold.

THE ELECTION
While we do not take issue with special elections, it is troubling that the polling sites are reduced from the more than 20 in a regular election to just four sites – with one of the sites being in a library branch – for this special election on Aug. 12. Limited ballot access is unfortunate and antithetical to a library seeking broader and deeper connections to city residents.

THE AMOUNT, PURPOSE
Jumping from 1 mil to 3 mils is the primary objection among those who oppose the increase. An overwhelming majority of those informally surveyed by The City Wire said they would have supported a 1 mil raise.

Indeed, a 200% funding increase is indicative of an effort to fix a long running and well-known funding crisis, or to support an extensive physical expansion. Neither of those are facts in this case. The library board, staff and supporters are to be commended for the impressive list of service upgrades and new services allowed under a millage increase. But the list does not, in our opinion, rise to a level requiring a 200% increase.

And while the list is impressive, it’s spending specificity does not match the bold call for a 200% increase. Library Executive Director Jennifer Goodson called the proposed budget "a flexible document, not a rulebook. We've got a good first year, but we need to see what we learn and what we experience between now and 2017."

In exchange for a 200% increase, we’d like something closer to a rulebook than a flexible document. We at the The City Wire have learned from the Ben Geren water park process that too few specifics on the front end results in controversy and diminished trust on the back end. The library is too valuable as a community asset to chance controversy or trust issues.

Past and present managers, staffers and supporters of the Fort Smith Public Library are to be praised for their efficient management and great service to the city and the region. They have accomplished wonders with the resources available to them. The City Wire also believes more funding for the library would allow the system to better serve all socio-economic demographics of not only the city, but the region. We are especially intrigued by the “maker spaces” concept, which is a place in a library that could be used by entrepreneurs to invent, create and produce new business services and/or products.

To that point, and if the millage question fails, we encourage library leadership to return with a request for a 1 mil increase and a more defined budget plan. It would be nice if the election could be held with a regularly scheduled cycle, but if it must be a special election, please consider more than just four polling sites.

THE BIGGER PICTURE
Appropriate consideration of the library millage increase must be made in context with other near- and long-term issues facing the city and likely to increase costs for city residents and businesses. A short list of those include a potential rate increase for water and sewer customers, the ongoing Department of Justice order that may require more investment in the city’s wet-weather sanitation system, pending liabilities with the city’s fire and police pension fund, and likely millage increases for Fort Smith Public School improvements. School millage increases could be in the 6 to 10 millage range.

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In addition to pending future costs, the Fort Smith regional economy is on a positive track but is still struggling to emerge from the recession of 2007-2008. As of July 2014, there were 14,229 fewer employed in the region since June 2007, down 10.7%. If assuming that each of those employed once earned $25,000 (a considerably low number), we’ve suffered an annual loss of $355.725 million in commercial activity in the Fort Smith region.

Asking for a 200% funding increase on businesses – who pay a bulk of the property tax collections – in this economic environment and with the other issues facing city residents is not something we are able to endorse.

Again, the Fort Smith Public Library is deserving of a funding increase so it can better serve the community, but The City Wire does not endorse increasing millage for the library by 2 mils.

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 3.5 (32 votes)

Comments

library asking for too much

The City Wire article is totally accurate and presents both sides very well. It is obvious the writer has done the research necessary to reach a final decision, unlike the superficial coverage of other local news media. A study of the misnamed "Long Range Planning Budget" (actually a Year 1 list of the proposed use of the 2.8 million tax increase) plus the projection of all recurring uses for Years 2,3 and 4 clearly indicates that the amount sought is far, far more for many years than is actually needed. I repeatedly asked if ANYONE on the library staff or Board had prepared any projections beyond one year and have been told "No". It should not have been necessary for taxpayers to do this in order to try to make an intelligent informed decision

Follow The Leader

The misguided staff at the library is only following the lead of our incompetent city leadership who has misled the people of Fort Smith for many years on the need for more tax money. Even our newspaper has asked the voters to support the library with more tax money while THEY prepare to pull all of their printing out of Fort Smith and move it to NW Arkansas to save money! Thank God for The City Wire where comments can be made that reflect the true feelings, pro and con, of issues in Fort Smith. Everyone's voice is important in a community and all should be heard but it appears that The City Wire is the only news source that allows people to express individual opinions. Keep up the good work City Wire because the people need to be heard.

exception

They let you express your opinion ONLY if they agree with you. Otherwise you get censored.

The Arnold Exception

They printed your comment Arnold Fudpucker so are you saying that they always agree with you? Just asking-----

Basically ditto except....did learning occur right here....

From; http://www.thecitywire.com/node/18247#.U-LxkfldXf0 Fort Smith’s first 1% in local sales tax was enacted in 1985. In March of that year, there was a countywide special election for a 1% sales tax to fund streets and drainage improvements. The measure failed in Sebastian County as a whole, but received a majority of “For” votes in Fort Smith. (ah ha???) Six months later, the issue was back on the Fort Smith special election ballot — this time as a city tax instead of a county tax. The tax narrowly passed, with 51.4% voting yes. ---- (Learning has definitely occurred...Special election again..) ------ • 1% county tax for local needs (1993-present) In 1993, another 1% countywide sales tax made it to the special election ballot. The tax was proposed in order to fund police and fire departments along with other needs among cities in the county. Just as in 1985, the measure passed in Fort Smith but failed in Sebastian County as a whole. Gosack attributes the failure to local officials in the rest of the county doing a poor job of communicating the tax’s benefits to voters. (Yup, Special election need more proof?) Let's not say we are smarter than the rest of the country for awhile.) I will vote against anything in a special election from here on out because this is where I feel the people have lost control. All those whose income is derived from taxation will work together and vote taxes in and it's hard to get the ones who pay to show up for only one thing. They will tend to rationalize just as they are told...it's only so much more...and they may do it every year or so for decades. Special elections are for 1 thing only and that's when something can't wait.
From; http://www.thecitywire.com/node/18247#.U-LxkfldXf0 Fort Smith’s first 1% in local sales tax was enacted in 1985. In March of that year, there was a countywide special election for a 1% sales tax to fund streets and drainage improvements. The measure failed in Sebastian County as a whole, but received a majority of “For” votes in Fort Smith. (ah ha???) Six months later, the issue was back on the Fort Smith special election ballot — this time as a city tax instead of a county tax. The tax narrowly passed, with 51.4% voting yes. ---- (Learning has definitely occurred...Special election again..) ------ • 1% county tax for local needs ...>> Read the entire comment.

Low numbers

I have a friend who used to work at the library. I helped do their taxes one year. This person was a regular staff member, and they made considerably less that 25,00 (which according to the writer was already a considerably low number). My understanding of the proposal is that staff will be brought up closer to a living wage. My friend sure could have used this. I no longer live in Fort Smith, but I would certainly vote YES.

They could have paid them more with what they had

from the get go. This is Ft Smith mam. We can't take any chances whatsoever of running the top short. We vote in the extra $2.8 million the thought that kicks in real fast is there's no need to go overboard with the hired help. My guess is $2,000 more. With 50 employees they have $2.7 million left.

Library staff are poorly paid.

I also know people who work at the library. I've been told that full-time staff only start at $17,000 per year and that part-timers only get payed minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). That's pathetic. Apparently, employees at the Fort Smith Public Library are among the lowest paid library staff in entire state of Arkansas (and the entire country.) That's embarrassing and I think we can do better for our public servants. I'm voting YES on August 12th.

You need to work with the your people on this

The others are putting out says $25,000 plus they are pretending to help them with taxes. Nice try as it implies they will get substantially or at least some more with 2.8 million extra. I look forward to reading more of your creations this week.

Ask a librarian.

If you don't believe me, why don't you go ask someone at the library what entry level non-professional staff get paid. That's what a library is for...you know...helping you find answers to your questions.

I hope that you realize that

I hope that you realize that a starting salary of $17,000 can cost a business $25,000 when you include payroll taxes and benefits. Also, the millage plan includes a payroll review and a bump in salaries to come a bit closer to a living wage. I'm not sure what you are trying to imply by using the term creations, but I do not see dishonesty in these numbers.

Usually you don't go to church and ask,

"Hey how much do make a year?" Especially when you're passing the plate. T Rumpole is very much for the TRIPLING of the library millage obviously so he/she invents a name and a mere 2 hours later is banging the keys simultaneously calling people ignorant, criticizing his host, and getting all sorts of things wrong while trying to promote the tax. That's called a creation.

Well HRumpole

If you are telling the truth about library staff being so poorly paid, what is library management doing with the millions of tax dollars? How much does the Head of the Library make? Lets get the real truth out there and it may open your eyes!

I am telling the truth.

I asked a library employee that I know who attends my church how much beginning library staff get paid. That's how I found out. My eyes are already open...not sure about yours.

Next step is to wake up

Two libraries ago that was a minimum wage job. One library ago it was a minimum wage job. Obviously now it is. By golly I think I see a trend here and you know what...I don't want to experience the equivalent of it myself. The workers would not get that much more out of a millage increase from our library system..history proves it.

Improve their skill set

If the employees at the library are unhappy with their pay, it is up to them to improve their skill set and find a job that pays more. Just because they enjoy doing it does not mean that we the taxpayers should fund their hobby. I can't find anybody to pay me for my hobbies.

Here we go again...

I was waiting for this one. Some of the most belittling comments from ignorant people about librarians always come from people who have never worked in a library nor have any idea what a librarian does. My mother worked in a library and believe me, it was no hobby. It was a labor of love. Librarians put up with all sorts of nasty behavior and bad attitudes from the general public everyday with very little appreciation from anyone. Why? Because they believe in the value of the public service they are offering. I think librarians embody the true spirit of public service since they do so much for their communities while earning so little. That being said, there is no excuse for paying anyone a starvation wage when it is possible to pay them a living wage. Most library staff are college educated and are definitely worth far more than what they are being paid. In fact, even if the Fort Smith Public Library staff did receive a raise, it would still be a bargain for the public at large considering their qualifications.
I was waiting for this one. Some of the most belittling comments from ignorant people about librarians always come from people who have never worked in a library nor have any idea what a librarian does. My mother worked in a library and believe me, it was no hobby. It was a labor of love. Librarians put up with all sorts of nasty behavior and bad attitudes from the general public everyday with very little appreciation from anyone. Why? Because they believe in the value of the public service they are offering. I think librarians embody the true spirit of public service since they do so much for their communities while earning so little. That being said, there ...>> Read the entire comment.

My guess is 50 cents if the library is inundated with cash

My Ex is a head librarian out there somewhere and in 25 years she hasn't gotten past the 'Preface' of a book on the economy yet. Definitely good with where to put them for sure. It's looks like you may be settling in on the low wage angle in order to push for votes. Why? It says in the other news source, the one you never criticize, the library currently has a surplus. Looks like they could have paid them more if they wanted to already. Why not skip a branch location and take care of their people first? What you are dealing with is a mindset nationwide if your mother was somewhere else.

Pay as you use

Here's a novel idea. How about those who use the service pay a small fee for doing so? Instead of everyone being taxed for the benefit of the few, let the users pay for the library. If enough people are using the library, a small fee should pay for any increased expenses. If too few use it, is it really worth spending the money? That failing, perhaps the library can do what the rest of us do. Live within their means, and better use the funding they already get.

Great Logical Thinking

"pay as you use" is what we all should be doing but we all know that the library people all want raises from the taxpayers and really don't care if it puts a hardship on people that own homes or business buildings. We all must live within our means but the library wants to live high on the backs of the people who are trying to balance their family budgets.

Not all taxes are bad.

Go rail against the Washington bastards who are stealing our money and find ways to stop giving it to the fat cat politicians. This is a local tax that should be supported, it builds up your community and keeps your taxes at home, where they belong. If they had been given a mill 25 years ago then they would only be asking for one now. I don't know who does Gerbers and the rest of the business taxes but I would think that anything they pay is offset right off the top of any federal taxes they pay. Librarys are a free open source for everyone in the community. They are our only local source of free meeting rooms, entertainment, with a little help they could just about put an end to movie rental places and stop anyone from paying for songs, even do away with cable and dish. A yes vote would be in order to help Fort Smith grow.

Bad Taxes Hurt A Community

and this is a bad tax increase that will raise everyone's cost of doing business in Fort Smith and will cause us to lose more jobs. When you raise the cost of doing business for business owners they have no choice other than to lay off people or raise their prices on the products they sell. Food, clothes, rent, sporting goods, hardware, furniture, automobiles, fuel, insurance, and everything that you buy will go up because local business must make a profit to stay in business. A huge rise in property taxes will cause low income families to struggle more because every single item purchased will cost more so this is a tax that will hurt families, hurt the poor, hurt the elderly on fixed incomes, and hurt every person who struggles monthly to survive. Yes some taxes can be fluff and unnecessary so they are BAD!

Library tax

Obviously you are not informed. Property taxes are not deducted from federal income taxes, they are deductible from income, BIG difference. This is the same deduction an individual uses. The library does NOT need to be in the movie rental business or any other business to compete, unfairly, against a for profit company. My tax dollars should not be used to negatively impact private businesses that pay taxes and employ people. If you want to watch a movie, pay for it yourself. If you want to hold a meeting, ask your church or use your own living room. Local business pay property taxes on their real estate, vehicles, furnishings and inventory. How much is enough? The number and amount of taxes paid by a business is staggering. Do not kid yourself, there is a limit to how many taxes and regulations that can be imposed on en employer before they say "enough", close their business and lay all their employees off. Keep on imposing more taxes and regulations and pretty soon there will be a lot fewer businesses to pay them.

Take out your anti-tax frustrations on Washington D.C.

I think it is sad when people become justifiably angry with "The Government" that they take out their anger on their local public institutions. Local taxes are really the only taxes where people can see and touch the services provided by their tax dollars. I hate Washington D.C. too. (I'm also frustrated with the Fort Smith Board of Directors.) But I'm not going to channel my anger at the poor library. Come on people, libraries have always been one of the vertebrae within the backbone of civilization. They are the universities for the self-educated man. The benefits provided by such institutions far out ways the cost of the small tax required to make intellectual fruits of civilization available to everyone in a community for free. Not everything is available on the Internet, despite what some people seem to think. There is much information that can ONLY be found in libraries and many new innovative services that SHOULD be offered by libraries as a catalyst for encouraging young minds to achieve greater things. Without access to a public library many people would not be able to afford access to even basic things like email and online job applications, much less access to the writings of the great minds of history.
I think it is sad when people become justifiably angry with "The Government" that they take out their anger on their local public institutions. Local taxes are really the only taxes where people can see and touch the services provided by their tax dollars. I hate Washington D.C. too. (I'm also frustrated with the Fort Smith Board of Directors.) But I'm not going to channel my anger at the poor library. Come on people, libraries have always been one of the vertebrae within the backbone of civilization. They are the universities for the self-educated man. The benefits provided by such institutions far out ways the cost of the small tax required to make ...>> Read the entire comment.

The sky is not the limit on things

They are doing these things already and can still do them in the future without any more money Mr/Ms poster for 2 days now. Have you been to the other news sources to call them useless yet? Some of them are saying the library does get part of the sales tax you at first said was over for them. This is too much of an increase so I voted NO. I'm not mad in the least at the library for trying.

Cutting back

It sounds so simple when you are telling someone else to do it. Why don't you cut back on some inane privilege that you don't really need, save up $0.10 a day, pay your property taxes to fund the library and get over it? Its really not that big of a deal. Its less than $5 a month. Are you all really doing that bad? Obviously you can afford a computer and internet - or are you sitting at the library making these comments? As for the completely RIDICULOUS comments about librarians working as a hobby - let me explain something to you: Librarians are incredibly well educated. Our library staff could easily go somewhere else and get paid more but most of them actually LOVE their job and LOVE their community (i.e. YOU) and so they continue to slave away every day for a minimal salary. Most are happy to do it because they enjoy helping children, parents, teachers, their neighbors and perfect strangers find what they need - or often what they didn't even know they needed. Its a passion for the public and there aren't many people that have it at the level your public librarians do. Pay as you go negates the idea of a public library. What you are describing would be a private club and librarians do not believe in limiting or censoring information. Education and information should be available to every person regardless of race, gender, age, religion or creed. This tax isn't going to take so much out of your pocket that you can't pay your bills. We waste our money on frivolous crap every day and don't even try to say that you don't. We all do it. Get off your high horse. The library needs help. Its not the city, its not the mayor, its not the evil "good ol' boy" club - its the library. YOUR LIBRARY. Stop looking for a conspiracy when there is none. Its pretty clear cut - the library needs help and we are the only ones that can give it.

Such Bad Journalism

With this editorial The City Wire demonstrates a very poor level competence in basic journalism. For starters these "journalists" have never pressed the question of how the current millage rate compares with other millage rates around the state. Most public libraries in Arkansas are very poorly funded. However, raising the library millage to a measly 3 mils merely brings the Fort Smith Public Library millage rate on par with library millage rates supporting the library millage rates in Little Rock (3.3 mils) and North Little Rock (3 mils). Fayetteville currently only collects 1 mil, but is discussing a possible increase in the near future. Next, the editorial implies (through poor writing) that the library is still collecting money from the 1997 sales tax. The Library is NOT still receiving money from that tax. When the new library buildings were paid off the revenue from those taxes ended. However, the library buildings are now nearly 15 years old and are in serious need of maintenance and upgrades which the library CANNOT currently afford. Next, article states "Limited ballot access is unfortunate and antithetical to a library seeking broader and deeper connections to city residents." What utterly moronic tripe! The reason the library decided to go with four polling stations was TO SAVE MONEY. First, the money for the election was graciously donated by library supporters. Second, the number of polling stations was reduced to cut the election from $30,000 to $10,000. Why? BECAUSE THE LIBRARY IS A GOOD STEWARD OF ITS MONEY! Finally, none of the journalistic geniuses on the staff of The City Wire have thought to ask the question of "What happens if the millage does not pass?" I have it on good authority from people that I know who work a the library that there will likely be a significant cut in public services offered by the library if the millage does not pass? Why, the libraries fixed expenses keep going up faster than it's sources of revenue. If the millage does not pass it is likely that services currently offered by the library will be reduced, hours of operation cut, and the possible closure of one or more branches. Such a result is hardly the sign of a city that is moving forward. In conclusion, the Fort Smith Public Library is not asking for anything extravagant here. They are only trying improve the services for the community that they serve and be the best public library in the state of Arkansas...something the city can be proud of. It is a shame that the staff of The City Wire don't see it this way. From where I'm standing it is The City Wire that is demonstrating itself to the organization that is standing in the way of progress in Fort Smith. The Library has a vision, the editorial staff of The City Wire does not. I will be voting YES for this millage increase on August 12th and so should the staff of The City Wire. SHAME ON YOU CITY WIRE...SHAME ON YOU!!!
With this editorial The City Wire demonstrates a very poor level competence in basic journalism. For starters these "journalists" have never pressed the question of how the current millage rate compares with other millage rates around the state. Most public libraries in Arkansas are very poorly funded. However, raising the library millage to a measly 3 mils merely brings the Fort Smith Public Library millage rate on par with library millage rates supporting the library millage rates in Little Rock (3.3 mils) and North Little Rock (3 mils). Fayetteville currently only collects 1 mil, but is discussing a possible increase in the near future. Next, the ...>> Read the entire comment.

New name for 4 hrs now...same rubbish

They're getting 6% or around $900,000 for their portion of the sales tax. If they were short of money Jennifer Goodson would have said that first. You're for every tax that comes along because when it gets around to your favorite boondoggle, (hint $340,000 survey) you don't want taxpayers to have figured out they don't have to just sit there while it gets crammed down their throats. You've played the same game too long here.

Never assume...

Just because Jennifer never said the library is low on money doesn't mean that they aren't. As far as I can tell, no one has asked and she wouldn't be inclined to mention without being probed. I know for a fact that the library has been surviving for the last few years by using the endowment fund to make up the difference. The money the library brings in does not cover their expenses. The endowment fund cannot continue to keep the library afloat - soon there will be no money left. The sad truth is that without this millage the library will be forced to cut resources, staff and hours.

Library is Fiscally Responsible

Jennifer Goodson has said all along that the library has dipped into reserves for the past three years to maintain its current services. As a previous commenter noted, the library no longer receives funding from the 1997 vote and the "new" buildings are 15 years old and require upkeep. The Ft. Smith Public Library has been an extraordinary steward of the monies they've received. I've already voted yes.

The library gets 6% of the city's share of the county sales tax. I was referencing the vague way the editorial discussed the 1997 temporary sales tax to fund the bond issue for the civic center, riverfront park, and new library buildings. The library no longer receives any money from that particular tax, but the poorly worded editorial did not make that point clear. The rest of your comment makes no sense. This is the first City Wire article I've ever commented on. You just sound like another paranoid conspiracy theorist who thinks everyone who happens to be a public employee is after you.

Hmmm

I actually thought the article was very good. Thought out, concise, with great pains taken to explain their position without pissing anyone off. Guess I was wrong.

Not really pissed..

Nah, I'm not really pissed off. Just a bit annoyed that the City Wire didn't do their due diligence prior to writing their editorial.

Good Journalism

is giving both sides of the story and good government is allowing people to express their opinions and these rights are protected by the Constitution of The United States so I disagree with your opinion! We have a library who just wants more money but has no idea of what their budget will be after next year and that is really bad management. Most companies have a 5 year plan, a ten year plan, and a long range plan but the library just wants the taxpayers to give them enough money to run wild with spending. If Fayetteville currently collects only 1 mil then Fort Smith should be satisfied with the 1 mil that they get and be thankful that the taxpayers are willing to support the function. SO SHAME ON YOU HRumpole for complaining about free speech and SHAME ON YOU for supporting a library that does not know how to run a business and make a business plan. Thank You CITY WIRE for getting the truth out to the people and allowing people to exchange ideas and thoughts on your site.

What?

When did I attack anyone's freedom of speech? (BTW, there is no such thing as "Freedom of Speech" in the sense you are implying. There is only the First Amendment which prohibits the GOVERNMENT from interfering the freedom of the press and the political expression of American Citizens. It is a legal protection from state interference only, nothing more.) Next, the Fayetteville Public Library is in the process of developing expansion plans and will likely be asking for a millage increase in the future. What Fayetteville is planning will leave Fort Smith in the dust if they pass their millage and we don't pass ours. (Then silly people in Fort Smith while start whining "Why can't WE have a nice library too like Fayetteville!? Well you have an opportunity to prove that Fort Smith is Fayetteville's equal next week by investing in the future of our library just like Fayetteville.) Finally, a public institution is NOT a business. The purpose of a business is to make profit for it's owners. The purpose of a public institution like a library is to serve the public and provide services for free or very low cost by taking advantage of economies of scale. And finally, just what is this "run wild with spending" that you speak of? The library DOES have a strategic plan and everything that is being proposed is something that will directly benefit regular people in Fort Smith. Everyone in Fort Smith can use these great new services that will be added.
When did I attack anyone's freedom of speech? (BTW, there is no such thing as "Freedom of Speech" in the sense you are implying. There is only the First Amendment which prohibits the GOVERNMENT from interfering the freedom of the press and the political expression of American Citizens. It is a legal protection from state interference only, nothing more.) Next, the Fayetteville Public Library is in the process of developing expansion plans and will likely be asking for a millage increase in the future. What Fayetteville is planning will leave Fort Smith in the dust if they pass their millage and we don't pass ours. (Then silly people in Fort Smith while start ...>> Read the entire comment.

check your facts

First, to address your misguided notion that the library does not receive sales taxes: In 2013, the library received approximately $2,269,000 in revenue. Of that, $1,363,642.61 was from property taxes, and the balance from sales taxes. Second, regarding the cost of the election: Is it really less expensive to have a special election than to put the ballot item in the November general election? I am certain that any sane person would recognize that it is NOT less expensive, and that therefore using your logic, the library is not a good steward of its(sic)money, and certainly not a good steward of our money. The fact that they use tax dollars to compete with private businesses sickens me. Dewey's café should never have been opened to start with, and it loses money every year, in addition to the hidden costs which I am certain are not allocated to it such as electricity, rent, water and sewer. It is symptomatic of the mindset there, and we do not need to reward that with more revenue.
First, to address your misguided notion that the library does not receive sales taxes: In 2013, the library received approximately $2,269,000 in revenue. Of that, $1,363,642.61 was from property taxes, and the balance from sales taxes. Second, regarding the cost of the election: Is it really less expensive to have a special election than to put the ballot item in the November general election? I am certain that any sane person would recognize that it is NOT less expensive, and that therefore using your logic, the library is not a good steward of its(sic)money, and certainly not a good steward of our money. The fact that they use tax dollars to compete with ...>> Read the entire comment.

Re-read what I wrote...

I never said that the library does not receive any sales tax. I just said that they no longer receive any taxes from the 1997 sales tax used to fund the initial construction of the library buildings.

shame

Why can't opposition to this topic not be met with personal attacks. I am conservative from studying both sides of an issue; however, I enjoy being conservative because the liberals are the first to get nasty and personal when defending a position. There is no such thing as a "measly" tax, and that goes to the liberal mindset. Over ten years, 28 MILLION dollars is not a tip or measly. But then again, that's why I am a fiscal conservative.

I'm not a liberal...

If you think that I'm a liberal then you are much mistaken. I'm more of a paleoconservative than anything else. I think Edmund Burke was quite the cat's meow. True conservatives believe in both fiscal prudence and healthy public institutions. Low taxes, while characteristic of traditional conservatism is not the historical driving force behind the philosophy. The recent drum banging about LOW TAXES "Über Alles" is a recent innovation driven by the influence of extreme economic libertarian thought. The word "measily" was chosen carefully to reflect the fact that the library receives a tiny fraction of the taxes that people currently pay and will continue to be a tiny percentage if the tax is passed.
If you think that I'm a liberal then you are much mistaken. I'm more of a paleoconservative than anything else. I think Edmund Burke was quite the cat's meow. True conservatives believe in both fiscal prudence and healthy public institutions. Low taxes, while characteristic of traditional conservatism is not the historical driving force behind the philosophy. The recent drum banging about LOW TAXES "Über Alles" is a recent innovation driven by the influence of extreme economic libertarian thought. The word "measily" was chosen carefully to reflect the fact that the library receives a tiny fraction of the taxes that people currently pay and will continue to be ...>> Read the entire comment.

No matter how you think, here's what you do..

..push for or against taxes according to your own set of interests and whims whichever name you post under. Frankly it appears to have little or nothing to do with anything else.

The millage is not for the library, it is for our community.

I am voting FOR the library millage increase. As a fellow tax paying citizen, I understand the roar of upset over "yet another tax." I struggle just as much as all of you to pay my bills. However, as a mother, as a library patron, as a human being, I realize the importance of this increase. Without it our library will become a shadow of itself. We cry out to our city officials for progress and improvement yet we refuse to foot the bill. Technology is becoming more relevant every day and without proper funding our library will fall behind, effectively causing our city's children to fall behind. Where do you go when your computer won't start or your printer runs out of ink? Who do you call when you need assistance with your tablet or mobile device? Who do you rely on to get your children through science fairs or history day? We don't need this millage for the library but for our community. If it does not pass, I don't want to hear complaints about how stagnant our city has become. Be the change you want to see. Vote FOR your library. Vote for your city. Vote for the future of our hometown.
I am voting FOR the library millage increase. As a fellow tax paying citizen, I understand the roar of upset over "yet another tax." I struggle just as much as all of you to pay my bills. However, as a mother, as a library patron, as a human being, I realize the importance of this increase. Without it our library will become a shadow of itself. We cry out to our city officials for progress and improvement yet we refuse to foot the bill. Technology is becoming more relevant every day and without proper funding our library will fall behind, effectively causing our city's children to fall behind. Where do you go when your computer won't start or your printer runs out ...>> Read the entire comment.

Member 3 years 2 months....first post ever...!

With the high taxes we already pay I don't believe we should hardly call it 'refusing to foot the bill.' I have no problem if the city wants to up the libraries percentage of the sales tax. I can see possibly even quadrupling the card fee without really hurting anybody especially if it gives a break to the poor. This tends to have the ones using it pay a tad extra as well they should. Bear in mind everybody as a whole will still be contributing $2.3 million to it's continued operations.

Simply Put HRumpole, Vote "No" On Library Tax, Not Needed!

Simply put, the taxpayers of Fort Smith shouldn't be burdened with additional millage to increase the Library's budget from $2.6 million to $5.4 million. The unbridled spending began after the 1996 tornado. We now have a convention center that was suppose to put Fort Smith on the map, yet costs the taxpayers over $1million a year, We now have a grandiose Main Library and 3 branches, all built at a time when the internet and technology was replacing the need for many library services. Personally, I think the 3 branches should be closed. If HRumpole is correct and most library employees are college educated and worth more elsewhere, then in this country they still have the freedom to sell their skill set, sell their performance, experience, or their diploma for a larger salary elsewhere, but to force taxpayers to provide higher salaries just because they have the college education at the expense of the taxpayers shouldn't happen. City Hall, the public library included, shouldn't be a growth industry at the expense of the private sector, it should handle the basic, essential support services that the private sector is unwilling or unable to do and not try to be the economic engine of the community providing salaries higher than those in the local private sector.
Simply put, the taxpayers of Fort Smith shouldn't be burdened with additional millage to increase the Library's budget from $2.6 million to $5.4 million. The unbridled spending began after the 1996 tornado. We now have a convention center that was suppose to put Fort Smith on the map, yet costs the taxpayers over $1million a year, We now have a grandiose Main Library and 3 branches, all built at a time when the internet and technology was replacing the need for many library services. Personally, I think the 3 branches should be closed. If HRumpole is correct and most library employees are college educated and worth more elsewhere, then in this country they still ...>> Read the entire comment.

Its A NO NO NO

What in the world does a library need with 5.4 million dollars of taxpayer money? Its not only insane but proves the mindset of library management who believe that the taxpayers owe them! Agree that it mirrors the same policies of the convention center and other Fort Smith municipal attitudes that believe the taxpayers are the servants of City Hall.

Jack, branch out

Thankfully, the library has three strategically placed locations in the city in attention to the centrally located main library. Jack, you should go to one some time before declaring that they be closed. If you did, you would see that many that go there WALK or BIKE. They do function as a place for at-risk kids to go and THRIVE. For so many of those kids, that is their safe place. For so many of those kids, that is where they learn how to use a computer. For so many of those kids, that is where they learn about a world broader than the square mile they only know. For adults, much the same is true. It's where they look for work on places like monster.com That alone, is good enough reason.

Rental Fee

The main library could charge a safety harness rental fee for the staircase use. I would prefer to be reimbursed for PikePass fees to the Tulsa Central Library. And all my book donations go to Van Buren.