Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Kenton, Campbell Libraries
The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled in favor of libraries across Kentucky facing lawsuits over how taxes are collected to fund the community institutions.
A 3-0 ruling from the court was announced Friday and reverses rulings that threatened libraries from the Campbell and Kenton County Circuit Courts.
Two state statutes formed the heart of the issue: House Bill 44, adopted in 1979 which gave libraries the same ability to increases taxes as other special taxing districts have through a mechanism that permits an increase of up to four percent more than the compensating property tax rate, and the earlier KRS 173.790, which would require a petition signed by 51% of the voters that participated in the previous election in order to raise the tax.
In a Northern Kentucky Forum event hosted in 2013, Campbell County resident Eric Hermes and his attorney, Brandon Voelker argued that since the Campbell County Library was formed through petition it should only be allowed to raises taxes as governed by KRS 173.790. Circuit Court judges in Campbell and Kenton Counties have agreed and that could send library funding back to its pre-1979 levels.
“We are gratified by the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirming the method used for funding of public library taxing districts for the past 35 years," Kenton County Public Library Executive Director Dave Schroeder said in a statement. "Kentuckians in every county depend on their libraries as never before for education, information technology, literacy, and services of all types for all members of the family. We are relieved that the investment made in Kentucky’s public libraries will continue for the benefit of all Kentuckians.”
“We are thrilled the Appeals Court firmly and unanimously ruled in our favor. The Court set a strong precedent with this ruling. We are happy to move forward from this litigation and focus on serving the public," said Cathy Howard, president of the board of trustees of the Campbell County Public Library. "The Court’s decision confirms that this library and other libraries across the Commonwealth have been acting in good faith, following the direction the legislators intended. We have always been open and accountable to the taxpayers, providing the best library services possible for the people of Campbell County.”