Library board approves tax rate increase

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As library services grow, expansion of current facility being considered

By Molly Haines

With an eye toward building a new facility to better serve the public, the Owen County Public Library Board approved a tax increase.

The board voted to take a 4-percent increase. This year’s real-estate rate will be 10.8, up from last year’s rate of 9.5. The personal property and motor vehicle rates will remain the same as last year.

Owen County Public Library Director Jennifer Nippert said an architectural firm, Brandstetter Carroll Inc., has been selected to assist the library board in site selection and design of a new facility.

A site for a new facility has not yet been chosen, but several possible sites have been discussed, Nippert said.

“In order to finance a construction project, the library will need to collect taxes at the rate that is allowed by state law,” Nippert said. “The new rate will mean a property valued at $100,000 will see a tax increase of $4.”

Nippert said the library receives only $15,000 a year in funding from the state, and the real estate tax is their biggest source of revenue.

The library collected $547,773 in taxes last year. If the tax collection rate this year is 95-percent, the library would receive $602,800 in revenue.

Because of an increase in the county’s population, Nippert said, more space is needed to efficiently serve the citizens of Owen County.

“According to state per capita guidelines, the current library facility is undersized by 3,373 square feet,” Nippert said. “The size of the library affects the amount of materials we are able to offer, the number and types of programs we are able to host, and the number of employees we are able to accommodate.”

Nippert said the current facility has only 4,650 square feet and minimal parking spaces.

“We like our current building but we’re starting to burst at the seams,” Nippert said. “In order to serve the community, more space is needed.”

Nippert said the estimated population of Owen County is 11,428 with 41 percent of the population being library cardholders.

“In the past year, we’ve gained 561 new cardholders,” Nippert said. “The services we provide to the county are obviously something citizens want and need.”

Nippert said a new facility will help build an educated workforce.

“We’re here to help the community,” Nippert said. “The industry is looking for an educated workforce and we’re helping to provide that. Our main goal is to help the kids and the future of Owen County. That’s why we’re here.”