Threat to tax alarms Apollo library
The loss of dedicated tax funding from North Apollo would be “devastating” for the Apollo Memorial Library, the library's board president says.
North Apollo Council is discussing a referendum that would ask voters if they want to rescind the 0.75-mill tax voters approved in 2001 and again in 2002.
“We're very concerned about this development, which would be devastating for the library as well as the North Apollo community,” library board President Paula Mahar said. “When the referendum was passed, it gave library funding a much-needed solid foundation.”
The library tax is included in the borough's 11.59-mill property tax.
The same tax is collected in Apollo, where the library is located.
The median assessed value of a home in North Apollo is $24,500, according to Armstrong County. For a home at that value, the library tax accounts for about $18 of the borough's $284 annual property tax bill.
In 2012, the tax generated $13,334 in North Apollo, and $11,064 in Apollo, according to library Treasurer Judy Turner.
The library has a $73,500 budget for the year. It gets about half of its funding from state and municipal sources; the other half from library fees, fundraising, grants and donations, Turner said.
North Apollo Council President Gene Burns said council wants to stop using part of the real estate tax to help fund the library.
“We just think we could use the tax dollars for the town better,” he said.
Burns said council will discuss the issue at its next meeting on March 4.
“We're still not absolutely positive what we're going to do,” Burns said.
The library had 1,431 registered patrons at the end of 2012 — an increase of about 200, or 16 percent, from 2011. It was not known how many came from North Apollo.
If the tax is rescinded, Burns said North Apollo would make a donation. He could not say how much that would be.
Before the tax was enacted, North Apollo gave the library $350 per quarter, or $1,400 per year; Apollo gave $415 per month, or nearly $5,000 per year.
Because the tax was enacted by referendum, a referendum would be needed to remove it.
Burns said a referendum could not be ready for the primary ballot, but could be for the municipal election in November.
To get it on the ballot, the borough would need to file a petition with Armstrong County. How many signatures would be needed was unclear and could require a legal interpretation of the state's election law, according to Armstrong County Elections Director Wendy Buzard.
Because of how the state provides money to libraries, Apollo Memorial could lose state funding if the North Apollo tax is rescinded, according to Glenn Miller, executive director of the Pennsylvania Library Association.
Local support for libraries is lagging in the state, and eliminating a dedicated tax is going in the wrong direction, Miller said.
“We need more local municipalities to dedicate some of their resources to library services,” Miller said. “We know the value it returns to the community. “They deliver real value to kids, to senior citizens, to small business people. It's the biggest bang for the buck.”
Apollo Council President David Heffernan said he doubts the borough could support the library on its own.
Founded in 1908, Apollo Memorial is the oldest library in Armstrong County, Mahar said.
It includes a collection of nearly 27,000 catalogued items, 52 magazine and newspaper subscriptions, five computers and four computer tablets. Programs and services include children's story hours, a summer reading program, passports and dog licenses.
“We hope that the community will recognize the role of the library in the daily lives of our residents, and support us,” Mahar said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- East Deer police chase ends in arrest
- Springdale residents meet to combat drugs, suicides
- Work on Puckety Bridge in Murrysville set to begin
- ATI unions rally to maintain solidarity
- Frazer TIF dealt financial setback
- 1,500 lose power in Alle-Kiski Valley
- Judge sentences Arnold man already serving time to prison on federal charges
- New Kensington residents furious over road conditions
- New Kensington to consider bake shop
- Alle-Kiski police try to get drivers to cool it
- Pyrotechnics display turns from benefit to burden in Tarentum