Kirkwood, Tax Rates, and a Well-Timed Op-Ed
There is a debate in Kirkwood about the proposed library district tax rate increase on the ballot next month. This is a good thing debate about issues is always healthy. In the interest of full disclosure, I am chock full of conflicting biases on this one, what with my general desire for streamlined government, my work as president of the University City Library Board, and my appreciation of historic areas like Kirkwood Junction. Mr. Larry Allin is a leading opponent of the measure, and he makes a number of good points in the Post-Dispatch article, except for the part about better service which would strictly be his opinion:
The county library has its headquarters and a branch near Kirkwood. They provide better service and parking, Allin said. The county library benefits from economies of scale and its 14-cent tax rate is lower than the Kirkwood library’s, he said.
Liz Walker, my counterpart in Kirkwood, offers a number of retorts:
Liz Walker, chairwoman of the library’s trustees, on Thursday said the tax increase would preserve "a huge asset for all citizens of Kirkwood. It’s convenient, and it brings in people from all parts of the community."
I think that a having a public library in the heart of a downtown area really adds something to the area, such as in the University City Loop, Downtown St. Louis and Downtown Clayton. I also think that the property tax increase proposal is going to be a victim of bad timing, coming a few months after voters approved another tax increase and a few days after voters will have received their property tax bills in the mail. But speaking of timing, the voters and citizens of Kirkwood could always consider selling off their municipal utilitites, which would give the city and its taxing districts a number of options moving forward. (Thank you to the Missouri Political News Service for hosting my latest op-ed.)
The citizens of Kirkwood get to decide between some obvious choices: higher taxes and a quality library right in the heart of their downtown area, or lower taxes and a reduction in local libarary services, which may or may not be offset by the presence of two county libraries nearby. I am not going to presume to tell the voters of Kirkwood what they should do, but I look forward to following the debate and decision.