Library leaders push tax renewal in St. John

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016

LAPLACE — Libraries are an important part of a community, and parish officials said funding from a local property tax is necessary to maintain services and staff.

St. John the Baptist Parish Library Assistant Director Tammy Houston said tax revenue keeps the system current and on task with big cities.

“If people don’t vote in favor of the renewal, I think there would be a reduction in services that we can offer and the times we can stay open,” she said. “There might also be a reduction in staff.”

According to Houston, tax revenue provides services such as books, access to the Internet, reading programs for children and employment opportunities.

St. John the Baptist Parish voters are being asked to decide on the renewal of a 9.94 mills tax April 9. Early voting for the election begins Saturday and ends April 2; polls will not be open Sunday.

The renewal is for 10 years and begins in 2018. If approved, money generated from the tax is earmarked to maintain, construct and operate the public library branches. Information from the Assessor’s office indicates for a millage of 9.94 mills on a $150,000 home, the owner would pay $74.55 annually. For a $300,000 home, the tax would be $211.50.

Houston said money from that tax pays the staff and provides the community with Wi-Fi, computers and computer classes, books, audio books and more.

“The money allows the libraries to offer all of the advantages that we offer to the community,” she said.

St. John’s library system includes four branches in LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville and Edgard.

“Our parking lots are full, and our buildings are well utilized,” Houston said. “It would be devastating to actually live in a community that did not have a viable public library. Libraries are essential to communities. They are the hub of the community.”

Library Board President Vergie Johnson feels the tax renewal is important for the future.

“Libraries aren’t just a place for you to come in and get a book,” she said.

“There is a whole lot of technology in libraries. We would like to continue to provide more technology, more materials and more areas in which children will be able to have more programs.”

Johnson said library leaders are optimistic the millage will pass because libraries serve as a vital role in the community.

“I hope that each individual taxpayer and registered voter will come out to support the library tax, because it’s not a tax that is being added on, it’s just a renewal,” she said. “It will help us to continue to provide our services to the community.��

Parish president Natalie Robottom said the ongoing public education and access to information that libraries provide are invaluable and at the forefront of improving the parish.

“It is our duty and responsibility as voting adults to maintain this much needed resource in the future,” she said.