With the general election nearing on Nov. 6, the Kansas City Public Library continues its push for an 8-cent increase in its property tax-based operating levy. It would be the first increase in 22 years.
This proposition, called the Library Question, will appear on the ballot for everyone registered in the Kansas City Public Library Tax District, which includes portions of western Independence and Sugar Creek.
“Our revenue stopped growing around 10 years ago,” Kansas City Public Library Executive Director Crosby Kemper said Tuesday. “Our needs have never stopped growing.”
The Trails West branch, at 11401 E. 23rd St. in Independence, stands out as “one of the library’s largest footprints,” according to Vote for Your Library committee member Jack Holland. Kansas City Public Library media relations coordinator Courtney Lewis said in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the branch had 80,504 visitors.
Given the large patron base at the branch, Deputy Director of Library Services Joel Jones detailed that the Trails West Branch would be the third or fourth on the list to receive upgrades, following Waldo and Northeast. These planned renovations would include refurbishment of children’s areas and quiet spaces, modernized computers and increased weekend hours. In addition, Holland emphasized the possibility of expanding meeting rooms and implementing a drive-through feature, which he says library personnel have discussed.
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir also serves on the Vote for Your Library committee.
“Libraries are, of course, tremendous resources for learning and entertainment, providing books, movies, magazines and other materials for free. Access to these resources for people from all walks of life promotes literacy, exploration of new ideas, and a community gathering place,” Weir said.
“While we all think of libraries as central to reading and research, the library systems in Independence also support the community with free programs on a wide range of topics, business resources, educational support, and community development.”
In contrast, Holland identified the Sugar Creek branch at 102 S. Sterling Ave. as one of the library’s smallest. Lewis specified that in the last fiscal year, the branch attracted 23,357 visitors. Planned renovations include new carpet, new paint, upgraded digital resources and improved faxing and copying services.
For a home valued at $75,000, the proposed 8-cent levy increase would carry an extra cost of 95 cents per month, or $11.40 each year. For a home valued at $200,000, this cost rises to $2.53 monthly and $30.36 annually.
If the Library Question doesn’t pass, personnel explained that there will be cuts to library hours, as well as slower and tampered progress in acquiring new materials, updating technology and repairing facilities.
For more information, visit kclibrary.org/election.