As I listened to KMOG recently, I realized that some of the callers did not understand what is at stake with the Special Library District Tax.
I am not an authority, but I was working as an outreach librarian for Maricopa County, when the Special Library Tax became law. Originally the law was intended to keep county libraries open and enhance the services for their respective areas.
I might add that the reason for passing the special tax for libraries was that the Arizona State Legislature had mandated counties to support health and judicial services. Because of this, all unmandated services took such big budget cuts, that county libraries all over the state were in jeopardy of closing their doors. The Arizona State Legislature passed a watered-down version of the original bill, allowing each county their own interpretation of the law.
Today most of the counties give the largest amount of revenue to the communities where most of the taxes have been raised. This has been the case in Gila County until this fiscal year.
Gila County is proposing a 30-cent increase in your property tax and decreasing the Special Library District Tax by six cents. Look at your secondary taxes and you will find that the library tax is minimal.
Gila County not only intends to cut the Special Library District Tax, but intends to cut the funds returned to Payson by $92,000. Payson pays more than 50 percent of all library taxes collected in Gila County.
The Town Council has already passed its tentative budget for the coming fiscal year and by law, it cannot be increased. This means if Gila County goes ahead with its proposal, the Payson Library will lose a big share of its operating budget and could mean a decrease in staff. The library statistics shows that our library does a very large circulation for its size and staff. Per capita our library competes with the larger libraries that have many more personnel to do the job.
Every Payson resident should remember, whether they are a library supporter or not, that if Gila County goes through with its proposal it will adversely effect our town. Your taxes will be the same, no matter how the decision is decided. It simply means your tax dollar is going someplace else and not back into our community.
Good support from the residents of Payson will help our Town Council and the Library Friends of Payson in reversing Gila County's decision, so that we may get our fair share of revenue generated by Payson property owners.