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Court: Ky. Library Tax Rates Can Stay

Josh James

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that most public libraries can raise taxes by 4 percent each year without asking taxpayers for permission.

A state judge ruled in 2013 that more than 30 years' worth of tax increases by local libraries was illegal because they were not approved by voters in a referendum. The decision would have stripped 60 percent of the operating budgets of 99 public library systems across the state.

But the Court of Appeals reversed that decision on Friday, ruling a state law passed in 1978 exempts library officials from seeking voters' approval before raising taxes up to 4 percent.

"We hope that this very resounding result from the Kentucky Court of Appeals will really put an end to this case and let libraries go back to doing the work that they do best for the citizens of Kentucky," says Sara Feldman, president-elect of the American Library Association.

The court also argued that the state's public libraries followed the law for 30 years and reversing course would adversely affect them.

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