NEOSHO, Mo. —
Newton County voters decide today whether or not to approve a 15-cent levy increase to fund a $7 million expansion of the Neosho-Newton County Library.
The 15 cents represents a 150 percent increase from the library’s current 10-cent operating levy.
According to the Newton County Clerk’s office, the property tax increase will be the only issue on the special-election ballot. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. A simple majority is required for passage.
Today’s election is countywide, but voting will not be held in that part of Newton County that is in the city limits of Joplin because property owners in Joplin already pay a property tax levy to support the Joplin Public Library and are therefore exempt from the proposed increase.
The Neosho/Newton County Library currently serves 14,000 library cardholders in the Neosho area and 22,000 countywide. There also is a branch in Seneca.
According to Library Director Ginny Ray, the library has been operating for 17 years without any increase in the tax, or an increase in library space for patrons.
She said the proposed expansion would nearly triple the size of the library and include the addition of a meeting room, individual study rooms, a computer lab, an expanded children’s room, added parking, and a drive-up window and book drop.
According to County Collector Jim Otey, the current 10-cent library levy in Newton County costs the owner of a $100,000 home $19 per year. Under the proposal, the library levy would go to 25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, increasing the tax on the same $100,000 home to about $47.50, a difference of $28.50.
In addition to new construction, increased funding from the proposed tax increase also will be used to tackle some deferred maintenance projects such as roof repairs and the replacement of a leaky sewage line, said Ray.
The library’s current levy funds about 80 percent of library operations.
Because the issue is posed now, rather than during the annual spring elections for towns and school districts, Newton County Clerk Kay Baum has estimated it will cost the library $26,000 for the special election.