Reading is Expensive
On November 6th, Kirkwood residents will vote whether or not to approve an additional 12 cents in taxes per $100 of assessed property value in order to (primarily) finance improvements to its municipal library.
Dave wrote a great entry on the St. Louis Country Library system a few weeks ago, but I have to disagree with him on the benefits of Kirkwood maintaining its own library, rather than consolidating with the county. Kirkwood residents already pay 16.7 cents in taxes per $100 of assessed value in order to maintain their city library (compared to 15 cents for St. Louis County residents). The proposed tax increase would push this to nearly 30 cents.
Does such an expensive library system make economic sense? The building may be impressive and have an extensive collection, but is it really worth an extra $45.60 per year (for an owner of a $200,000 house) to maintain such a facility, when it could be consolidated with a country branch right down the street? By consolidating, you’d have the benefit of economies of scale, which would allow the two libraries to combine their collections and charge less in taxes.
Dave disagrees with me (and he should know, he serves as president of the University City Library Board of Directors) since he argues that Kirkwood residents like their own library and feel that it’s worth the cost. But residents have previously rejected municipal bond proposals to renovate their library. And I guess I just don’t see the point of paying twice as much in taxes to maintain a library on my block, as opposed to paying half as much for one the next block over, especially if it would have twice the books (and yes, that’s a little bit of hyperbole, but the point is there).