Local communities have made steady investments in schools, libraries, parks and other vital assets in recent years. Voters in western Independence and Sugar Creek have a chance to continue that momentum with Kansas City Public Library improvements.
Voters will decide Nov. 6 on a property tax increase of 8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. It’s an increase of about 1 percent, about $1.20 a month on a $100,000 home. This is worthy of the voters’ support.
The library system, which hasn’t asked for a tax increase in 22 years, has laid out a straightforward case. Kansas City, the biggest portion of the system’s service area, has enacted development tax policies than have effectively capped the library’s revenues. It’s losing ground to inflation. But half of its 10 libraries, including Trails West in Independence, are 25 to 30 years old and badly need a good deal of basic work: roofs, heating and cooling, parking lots.
The library system would also look to expand services. Trails West, for instance, might get added meeting space and perhaps even a drive-thru. The library says that community conversation could start by the end of this year and improvements could come within a couple years. The Sugar Creek branch, which is in leased space, also could see modest improvements.
The flip side is that without the tax increase, the library says it would have to look at trimming services. That exacts a real price, given the number of people – including students – who depend on their local library for essential services, such as internet access.
This is a good plan to keep good libraries moving forward.