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Tax Increase on April Ballot for Christian County Libraries

For years Christian County has had one library to cover the needs of the county. In April, the people of Christian County will vote on a tax increase that will get rid of this library and add three more branches. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has more on this possible tax increase.

Imagine having to drive an hour just to check out a book from the public library.

Mabel Phillips, the director of the Christian County library, says that should change.

“But the reason that we need to have better funding is to be able to serve the people in Christian County with the types of library services that the people throughout the rest of Missouri have chosen for themselves.”

On April 6th the people will vote on a 17 cent property tax increase that will give the library enough money to build three more libraries. There will be a main one in Ozark and smaller ones in Clever and Sparta. The current library would no longer be used.

This isn’t the first time this kind of ballot has been introduced. Back in November the people voted on a similar ballot which failed. Many believed it was due to a poor voter turnout.

Not only is there just one library, but according to Phillips, that one library has seen better days.

Phillips says that the electrical needs work along with the air conditioning and furnaces in the building. "Right now our telephone system is crossed fingers." she said.

Phillips said the tax increase would not only help build the new libraries but also help with their day to day costs like salaries and utilities.

However, some people are questioning the need for a new library at this time. Ronald Wagner lives in Christian County, and frequents the library, but he doesn’t support the tax increase.

“I think it’s bad timing, I don’t think anybody wants their taxes increased. And our library that we have presently right now in Ozark is adequate.”

With many other issues on the ballot in April, officials are hoping for a better turnout. If the tax increase passes, Phillips said the smaller libraries could be finished by the summer of 2011 and the main one in Ozark could be finished in the next two years.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.