Platte County Judge Thomas Fincham on Tuesday morning ruled that county voters should have the option to vote in November on a tax levy increase proposed by the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Fincham’s ruling appears to resolve a standoff between the library district, which wants voters to have a say on their proposed tax increase, and the Platte County Commission, which doubted the legality of the library district’s request.
Ron Schieber, Platte County presiding commissioner, was not immediately available for comment.
The Platte County Commission on Tuesday agreed to place the measure on the November ballot. Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of putting the item on the ballot, with Schieber voting against.
Steve Potter, chief executive of the library, lauded the decision.
“It was the Library Board’s desire in this matter to ensure that all voters of the Library District had the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and voice their opinion on the future of their Library,” Potter said in a written statement. “This ruling ensures that the voters of Platte County will have the same opportunity as the other voters in the Library District.”
In June, a majority of the MCPL board voted to ask for an 8-cent levy increase, which would show up before voters as Proposition L on the Nov. 8 ballot. Nancy Kraus-Womack, a Platte County representative on the library board, was the lone dissenting vote in June. She said at the time it was not appropriate to add to the public’s tax burden.
Proposition L would bring Mid-Continent’s levy rate of 32 cents per $100 assessed valuation up to 40 cents.
If approved by voters, it would be Mid-Continent’s first levy increase since 1983. The library has said the increase would amount to an additional $22.80 a year on the property tax bill for a $150,000 house.
Potter said in June that Proposition L would add $10 million of revenue to the library district’s current $42 million budget. He said additional funds would go toward building new branch locations, or replacing certain aging facilities.
Mid-Continent has 31 branch locations spread across Platte, Clay and Jackson counties. The library district serves about 785,000 residents.
Clay and Jackson counties already approved Proposition L for the November ballot.