Library faced with adjusting priorities if lower funding level for master plan holds up

Cedar Roe Library

The Johnson County Library’s 20-year master plan that included new or remodeled buildings at Cedar Roe, Corinth and Antioch is going to require some adjustments. What those will be remains to be seen.

“We do not plan to close branches or leave communities at this time,” said Christopher Leitch, the library’s community relations coordinator. Even if the county stands behind its current budget proposal for the library, it will mean a significant reduction in the funding – up to 25 percent – available for the master plan as described earlier this year.

The library board approved asking for full funding of the plan, estimated to require a property tax rate of 1.15 mills that would raise approximately $400 million over the 20-year life of the master plan. The county has reduced that proposal to .75 mills. That amount will raise closer to $300 million over the life of the plan, Leitch said. “That’s a lot of resources and a lot can be done with that,” he said.

The lower funding level will mean the library will need to “go to the drawing board” to establish priorities, Leitch said. The master plan was presented to the county commissioners without priorities, he said.

The library could either find other sources of funding besides the dedicated property tax, could delay parts of the plan or reduce the projects in some way to fit a new budget.

The library “needs to hear comments from the communities,” Leitch said, noting that “every community across the county is eager to protect its assets.”

A previous libraries facility plan had suggested that Cedar Roe and Antioch be combined. Combining the two libraries was still an outcome that some library board members pushed in the current master plan. The board voted, though, to include rebuilds or remodels for all three. The upgrades for those three sites are just part of a much larger plan that includes new libraries for other parts of the county.