Most of the state's public library systems could be forced to roll back their tax rates and collectively refund millions of dollars to local taxpayers under a pair of lawsuits heard Monday by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
The suits, filed by taxpayers in Kenton and Campbell counties, argue that many library districts have improperly raised taxes for decades without the 51 percent voter approval required by a previously obscure 1964 state law.
"We the people own the library. Every dollar spent in that library comes from us. So we should have a voice," said Charlie Coleman, a Tea Party activist elected last month as a Campbell County commissioner.
Circuit judges in Northern Kentucky sided with the plaintiffs in April 2013. The Kenton and Campbell county libraries appealed, warning of calamitous budget cuts if the suits succeeded.
Making their case Monday, the libraries' attorneys said a separate law, House Bill 44, enacted in 1979, was meant to include most libraries among the special taxing districts that are allowed to raise taxes by an amount that increases revenue up to 4 percent each year without voter approval. Libraries were advised to follow HB 44 by state revenue officials in Frankfort.
"No one objected to this for 30 years. Not one member of the General Assembly said to a library district, 'Hey, you're doing this the wrong way!'" Jeffrey Mando, attorney for the Campbell County library, told the three-judge appellate panel.
"To now say to the libraries, 'You've gotta go back ...' That would be devastating," Mando said. "More than a 50 percent funding loss for the Campbell County library system. An equal or greater funding loss for other libraries around the state. And these library districts did nothing but operate in good faith."
It doesn't matter. Government that works has to be government that is destroyed. Forget the fact that libraries are links to continuing education and internet access for the poor in the state, that's exactly why they have to be shut down. And yes, these people are looking to destroy Kentucky's libraries over a technicality, and they'll get the judges to sign off on it.
So when libraries across the state are shut down, it'll be a victory for the people, right?
Stupid poor people, get your own access to information and stop being poor!