Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Special election seeks Linwood Library district expansion

September 5, 2007

Voters in southern Leavenworth County will determine next week whether the Linwood Library district will expand.

The special election will decide whether the library's district, which currently extends into parts of Reno and most of Sherman townships, will expand to include all of Sherman and Reno townships.

The election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Linwood Community Center, which is in the 300 block of Main in Linwood. The center occupies space in the same building as the library.

Currently, residents in Sherman and Reno townships who are not in the district pay library taxes to the Northeast Kansas Library System in Lawrence.

If the measure passes Tuesday, all township residents would pay taxes to the Linwood Library rather than the Northeast Kansas Library System.

Carolyn Wise, who is on the Linwood Friends of the Library Board, said the Friends of the Library pursued the special election as a way to improve revenue for the library.

"Those are areas that are not included in any library district," Wise said. "We would like to bring those into our district so tax dollars would help our library."

Arlene Pritchard, who also is on the Friends of the Library board, said the group explored the district expansion because of a trend in decreasing funding. The Northeast Kansas Library System has reduced funding gradually each year.

And, books are increasing, as is rent for the library and increasing salaries.

"And we need more funding for that of course," Pritchard said. "And then we finally decided the area that is not included in the present library district, they are paying to the Northeast Kansas Library System.

The district's current west boundary is 238th Street, which means people living on the east side of the road are in the Linwood district and those on the west side are not.

Pritchard gathered petitions earlier this summer requesting an election to determine whether district would expand. Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer said a petition was filed in her office July 16.

According to Kansas Statute, increasing a library district requires petitions by at least 10 percent of city residents who voted for Kansas Secretary of State in the last general election and 10 percent of residents who voted for the same position who reside outside the city limits.

The number of residents who voted for the position in Linwood, as well as Sherman and Reno townships, was 1,373 in November 2006.

The required number of valid signatures, therefore, was 138. Petitioners successfully met that requirement, as 222 petitions were submitted, Scheer said.

According to the statute, the measure also required approval from the Leavenworth County Commission, which was granted.

Scheer said she has received several calls from Reno Township residents who said they weren't aware of the special election. A legal notice about the election ran in the Aug. 29 edition of The Mirror.

Wise said there have been some misunderstandings about the vote.

She said some people question the district expansion because they don't use the library and shouldn't be considered part of the library district.

"They don't have to use it, but it's for anyone to use," Wise said.

Wise, though, pointed out that there are many families in Reno Township with small children who could benefit from a youth library hour, which the Linwood Library provides weekly.

"It is used by people in that area," Wise said of Reno Township. "But I'll agree, there are probably people on 24-40, they're probably not going to be coming into our library ... they'll probably use Lawrence library facilities. But Lawrence isn't benefiting from them using it either."

Although Tuesday will be a special election day, one likely won't see political signs promoting the measure. Pritchard said she didn't do a campaigning blitz because, when she was collecting signatures for the petition, no one was opposed. The only people who didn't sign were those who were not registered voters, she said.

"There's always people who are going to oppose anything. And that's their privilege and their right.

"The fair way is to put it to the vote of the people and let the people decide."

Pritchard also said she thought taxes shouldn't differ substantially for residents who previously were outside the district.

"If we take in the additional proposed boundaries we've increased the number of people with valuation," Pritchard said. "It shouldn't be a large increase in the present library taxation."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.