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Election FAQs

Proposition 8 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many people are members of the library now as opposed to 1992?

A: At December 31, 2016, the Library had 56,798 registered members.  This represents a growth of 156% since the libraries opened 25 years ago.

Q: What is the library budget today versus what it was in 1992?

A: In 1992, the Library budget was $1,259,150; 94.7% of the revenue came from tax revenue.  The projected 2017 Library budget is $3,325,130, with 93% of the revenue estimated to come from tax revenues.  Factoring inflation, the 2017 budget equates to $1,938,634 in 1992 dollars, which is a 54% increase in revenues.

Q: How much was the library spending per user in 1992 versus today?

A: In 1992, the Library spent $56.84 per user.  In 2016, the Library spent $58.54 per user.  Factoring inflation, this spending amount equates to $34.13 in 1992 dollars.

Q: Why is the library asking for a tax increase when it has a reserve fund?

A: The Library has always tried to keep expenses down and put money aside at the end of each year into the reserve fund.  That fund is for emergencies and unanticipated expenses.  We try to maintain a reserve for emergencies equal to about one year’s worth of revenue.  We have also used the reserve fund to meet our building payments on the three branch libraries we have built over the last 25 years.  We still have a building debt of $6.4 million in principal and interest, which will not be paid off until 2029.
During the eight years since the Great Recession of 2008, we still managed to put an average of $142,000 a year into the reserve fund.  However our building payments are $500,000 a year. When we complete the annual audit for 2016, we anticipate a reserve of $5.3 million. 
When you subtract the reserve we need for emergencies (such as tornadoes, floods, or other weather disasters), it is very clear that not enough money is going into the reserve fund to cover our future building payments.   Without a tax increase we will have to cut services to find the money for the building payments. We may even have to close and sell a branch building in order to reduce the debt. 

Q: How much additional money will an 8 cent increase generate annually for the library?

A: Eight cents will generate about $1.6 million in additional revenue. 

Q: How will the additional money be spent?

30% will be used to secure our annual building payments and insure our ability to pay off the debt by 2029.

15% will be used to fund building and grounds maintenance and upkeep, and insure our ability to keep our buildings and grounds safe, secure and accessible for everyone.

12% will be used to purchase additional books and other materials to meet demand, and decrease the amount of time people have to wait for the most popular books and materials.

12% will be used to give our hardworking staff their first salary scale adjustment since 2006.  This will allow us to pay a wage that is competitive with other employers in our area.  For example, right now we only pay an entry level clerk $7.75 per hour, which is only five cents more than the minimum wage set by the state of Missouri for 2017.  The average starting wage for entry level clerk positions in the St. Louis metro area is currently $10-$12 per hour. 

12% will be used to refill 3 library assistant positions and 3 senior clerk positions (one of each at each branch location) that haven’t been refilled because of the recession. Since 2008 the library has lost 25% of its staff by not refilling positions when people left us for other employment or for retirement.  The restoration of these positions will allow us to expand programming and increase community outreach, improving the services we provide to families, students, small business owners, job seekers and seniors.

6% will be used to subscribe to additional online databases that our users can access online from home for personal enrichment, and educational and business-related research.

6% will be used to support our program and outreach initiatives; right now we rely on the support of our wonderful Friends and Foundation and grants from other organizations to support our program and outreach initiatives. We will continue those fundraising efforts, but having an actual line item in our budget will provide stability and continuity for programs and outreach.

5% will be used to purchase and maintain a small truck or van for staff to run errands, convey supplies and equipment, perform maintenance and supervise contractors at our three locations.

1% will be used to increase tuition assistance and continuing education for our staff, so that they can upgrade their skills and knowledge. We are now facing a time when many of our longtime employees will be retiring, and the most cost-effective way to replace them will be to promote qualified employees from within the library.

1% will be used to update our communications systems so that we can keep in touch with community needs and insure we continue to focus our efforts on the resources and programs that best meet those needs.

Q: What about the tax money the library gets from the County, the State and the Federal Government?

A: In the state of Missouri, by statute, county libraries are independent political subdivisions with their own dedicated levy set by the voters.  The library does not receive any revenue from the County government.

The only connection the library has with County government is that the County Executive, with the approval of the County Council, appoints the Trustees that have governing authority over the library; and the County Collector, for a fee, collects the library taxes and remits them to the County library. 

When you receive your tax bill from the County you will see the Jefferson County Library District included in the breakdown of taxes collected for various other agencies such as school districts, Jefferson College, the County Health Department, etc.  
The library has received a small amount of revenue (less than 2% of total revenues) from the State but this funding has become more erratic in recent years. In FY2017, State Aid payments to public libraries were originally budgeted at 40 cents per capita (40 cents for each person living within the boundaries of the library district based on census data).  State revenue shortfalls however resulted in parts of this funding being withheld, first by Governor Nixon and then by Governor Greitens. In FY2017 we will only actually receive 13 cents per capita. Given the average cost of a hardcover book, this level of funding would buy one book for every 207 people living in the library district.  Additional funding from the state to support library collections and internet access also has been withheld due to State revenue shortfalls.

The Federal Government, through the Institute for Museum and Library Services, disperses block grants to each state for distribution under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), according to a plan devised by the state. In Missouri, a part of that funding goes to support a statewide initiatives and the rest is available to individual libraries through a competitive grant program. Jefferson County Library has taken advantage of the competitive grant program to support select service improvements we could not have otherwise afforded, but these account for less than 1% of our annual revenue. However the Institute for Museum and Library Services, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, are currently being considered for possible defunding by the Congress and the Administration.  

Q: Is this tax increase actually earmarked specifically for the library or will it just go into the County's General Fund?

A: The library is not part of County government; by state statute it is separate and independent of County government, and has its own taxing authority and tax levy, and its own revenue fund.  All of the revenue generated by this tax levy increase will be used to maintain and improve the library and the services it provides to our community.