Library district asking for property tax increase

Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 10:43 AM
Members of the board of the Pine River Library District voted on Tuesday to ask residents to approve a property tax increase.

The board of directors of the Pine River Public Library District voted Tuesday night to ask residents in the district to approve a tax increase.

The district hasn't asked for a mill levy increase since 1999. In July, Library Director Shelley Walchak and members of the library board made a "state of the library" presentation.

The board has used the district's reserve fund to keep the budget balanced for the past three years, but can't continue that indefinitely, she explained.

The proposed property tax would raise the district's mill levy from 2.5 mills to 4.5 mills. That would almost double the property tax revenue for the district, from $541,000 annually to $973,000 annually.

For a $300,000 home, a proposed tax increase would cost a property owner $54 a year, or $3.58 a month.

In 2018, the district is projecting an ending fund balance of $1.04 million, down from $1.5 million in 2015.

The district has seven full-time staffers and eight part-time. Without the property tax increase, the district will have to make cuts in staffing, Walchak said.

With Bayfield Intermediate School opening this fall up the street "we are only going to get more children in the library," she said in July.

The library district has about 9,500 residents in its boundaries, which are the same as the Bayfield School District, and includes Forest Lakes and Vallecito as well as Bayfield.

The tax increase will be on the November ballot.

A volunteer campaign committee is raising funds to urge voters to approve the increase.