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Library Levy Election Date: Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Issue

In 1999, the residents of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library district approved a $0.15 increase to the existing operating levy with a 20-year sunset.  In 2019, voters renewed the $0.15 (which is fully half of our operating funds) until 2039.  Now, we are "right-sizing" our levy by asking for a REDUCTION in the total levy from $0.31 to $0.28 to fund the library for the foreseeable future.

The Need

We operate two locations and provide bookmobile service to Andrew & Buchanan counties.  During the pandemic, we learned that libraries are not a luxury but an essential service.  We need a facility located in our district boundaries that can quickly adapt to community situations and provide a safe and multipurpose environment for literacy and lifelong learning.  We will be able to fund this building project and cover operating expenses with the levy amount we are requesting.  

Libraries are about PEOPLE, PLACES, and PROSPERITY.  Every community with a high quality of life has a well-funded and active public library.

In 2023, the Rolling Hills Library had:

  • 185,539 visits to our libraries and the bookmobile.
  • 371,258 checkouts of materials, both physical and digital.
  • 29,474 uses of our public access computers.
  • 13,732 attendees at our library programs.

Important library programs and services include:

  • 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, an early literacy challenge for ages 0-5 and their caregivers.

  • Excel Adult High School online diploma program, with a laptop and wi-fi hotspot for extended checkout.

  • Public meeting rooms for community groups and study rooms for individuals, free for non-profits and personal use and a small fee for private parties.

  • Passport acceptance services, one-stop-shopping for photos and passport applications.

  • Summer Reading Program, our annual reading incentive event for all ages with prizes and performances held every June and July.

  • Fingerprint services, for area and regional workforce development and school personnel security requirements and background checks.

  • Fun and unique items for checkout, including fishing poles, folding tables, wi-fi hotspots, cake pans, and early learning tablets.

The Impact

What does a Yes or No vote mean for the library?

 means we can:

  • Build a new branch in Buchanan County in our tax district boundaries that will be adaptable into the future. 

  • Operate and maintain welcoming library facilities in both counties.

  • Offer enhanced, high-quality programs.

  • Engage in productive community partnerships.

  • Expand access to digital collections and resources.

 means we might:

  • Build a branch that becomes too small too quickly with increased usage.

  • Limit operating hours and staff while we pay off the building bond.

  • Reduce library programs for smaller groups or one-on-one appointments.

  • Lose good staff to other jobs with better pay and benefits.

  • Buy significantly fewer books and videos.

     

The Ballot

Shall Rolling Hills Consolidated Library be authorized to eliminate the 2019 Levy ($0.1500) and reset the operating levy to $0.2800, lowering the overall tax from $0.3100 per $100 assessed valuation, to improve library service and replace and maintain library facilities?

Questions and Answers

Q. Is this a tax increase?

A. No, this is a REDUCTION in property tax, almost a 10% decrease in the library levy.

Q. What does the library levy pay for?

A. Public property taxes account for 91% of the library’s total operating revenue.  This provides funds for our operating budget that pays for staff, facilities, services, and collections.

Q. Are there any other alternative sources of funding?

A. The State of Missouri provides less than 2% of our income, and this allocation has been slowly decreasing.  We also have income from copies, fingerprinting, and passport processing, but it is not a significant amount of funding.

Q. Why does Buchanan County have two library districts?

A. St. Joseph Public Library and Rolling Hills Consolidated Library are two separate library districts, one is primarily the city and the other is mainly for the county.  Each has its own levy and each operates separately from the other.  The two districts do not charge each others' residents any out-of-district fees for services.  We also collaborate and cooperate often to bring the best possible library service to our area.

Q. Why do we need libraries anymore with the internet?

A. Not everything on the internet is free or true.  Library staff can help you navigate the internet and be more confident in the answers you find.  We now know that foreign influences and other bad actors are constantly trying to manipulate us over the internet and social media.  Our library teaches classes on how to protect yourself and how to tell fact from fiction online.  Modern full text books and complete feature films are not available on the open internet and will likely always be behind a paywall of some kind.  Libraries provide internet access for those in the community who cannot afford their own connection at home.  Without us, many people could never write and print a resume, apply for a job, or see pictures of their grandchildren hundreds of miles away.  

Q. How do I know if I live in the Rolling Hills Library district?

A. The library district you live in is listed on your voter registration card and and on your property tax statement.  All of Andrew County is in the RHCL district.  All of Buchanan County is as well, except for the area within the 1965 city limits of St. Joseph.  In general, if you live east of Leonard Road, south of Parker Road, or south of Menard's, you live in our district and can vote on this ballot issue.  If you live on the outskirts of St. Joseph, check out this map for the boundaries.  Everyone lives in just one library district and only pays taxes to one library.  

Q. How does this affect me as a taxpayer?

A. This will LOWER the amount you have to pay for public library taxes.  Property tax is assessed on both homes and on personal property like cars, trucks, and boats.  Any property tax levy, including this library levy, is assessed on all of your property.  All property is taxed at the assessed value, not the market value.  Different types of property are taxed at different percentages of the assessed value.  More information can be found at:  https://stc.mo.gov.



REGISTER to vote in Missouri  
Buchanan County Clerk's Office for Voting Information
Andrew Couty Clerk's Office for Voting Information
Missouri State Tax Commission

Last day to register to vote in the April 4th election is March 6, 2024.

Rolling Hills Library -- Where CONNECTIONS are Made!