Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh wants to know if city residents are willing to raise their property taxes to help keep the system in the black. The library and its volunteers have launched a petition drive to place a referendum on the November ballot that would ask voters to raise their property taxes by .25 mills.
“That would be used exclusively, only, for the operation and maintenance of this system, which thousands upon thousands upon thousands of us across this entire city, and really this region, value as a corner stone,” said Library Board Member and Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd.
The tax amounts to $25 dollars for every $100,000 of assessed value on residential and commercial property. The millage rate increase would raise between $3.25 and $3.5 million dollars a year. The library system is facing a projected deficit of $5 million in 2014.
Board Member and Allegheny County Judge Frank Lucchino says the library is looking at other income generating options. Also being pursued is a campaign to increase the library’s endowment, asking the Regional Asset District for more money, doubling individual giving, increasing corporate and foundation giving and working with state and local governments to find ways to boost revenues. Lucchino tired to fend off arguments that a tax increase would make the city less competitive in the fight for economic development. “The library is the future of the city and the library makes it more competitive.”
“115 years this library has been here and now the people will have a voice on deciding do they want this library to continue,” said Lucchino, “It will be up to them.”
To get on the ballot, supporters need to collect about 2,800 signatures. Lucchino has set a goal of collecting 9,000 signatures to avoid any problems if names are disqualified.