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Carnegie Library to use tax revenue to extend hours

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 11:22 p.m.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will collect $900,000 more than it expected this year from a real estate tax and use part of the money to extend operating hours at many of its 18 branches.

“The commitment the community made to us requires a commitment back to them, and we are doing that,” said Mary Francis Cooper, president and director of the Carnegie system, at Tuesday's meeting of the Allegheny Regional Asset District board.

RAD supports parks, libraries, stadiums and cultural groups with half of the proceeds of an additional 1 percent sales tax in Allegheny County. The district traditionally reviews the long-range plans of organizations such as libraries and parks that get long-term commitments of money.

City voters approved a 0.25-mill real estate tax dedicated to the Carnegie system in November 2011. The tax raised more than $2.8 million in 2012, and library officials expected to raise $3 million this year. But the Carnegie Library board amended the 2013 budget on Monday to add $900,000 generated from the county-wide reassessment that raised overall property values in the city nearly 49 percent.

The anti-windfall provision of state law, which required the city, county and Pittsburgh school district to reduce their millage to limit increases in tax revenue, does not apply to special taxes such as the library tax, said Suzanne Thinnes, Carnegie Library spokeswoman.

Cooper said the Carnegie Library will use the extra money to increase operating hours to 8 p.m. at many branches, send an early childhood specialist to day care centers and preschools, and buy e-books, laptops and iPods.

“We'll have details soon,” Thinnes said.

The library system reduced hours at many branches several years ago because of a decrease in state aid. Last year, it added 119 operating hours a week across the city in response to the passage of the library tax.

The RAD board also voted to give Kuntu Repertory Theatre $9,500 of its $25.000 grant for 2012 with the possibility of getting the balance of the money by the end of May if the group gets an audit for fiscal 2011 and 2012.

Garland McAdoo, chairman of Kuntu's board, said the group was unable to meet RAD's deadlines for audits because Kuntu's accounting data were in a different format than what its auditors needed.

The RAD board unanimously elected officers for 2013: Daniel J. Griffin is chairman; Dusty Kirk, vice chairwoman; Jackie Dixon, secretary, and Stanley J. Parker, treasurer.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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