Taxes are a part of life. So is dying. And just because taxes are legal it doesn’t mean that we should be taxed to death.  

The lads from Liverpool said it best, “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, if you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If it’s gets too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet ... ‘cause I’m the taxman.”  

We pay taxes on everything. Property, coal, food, beverages, gas and the list goes on. If you paid your property bill recently you noticed where your tax dollars went. The state and county got some, a hefty price was paid to schools, reasonably so. And then there is the library tax, which is one of the highest in the state.

You can enter the library for free, but we are paying higher taxes to have that access. I guess this is the Bernie Sanders’ way of free education. It appears free but we are paying dearly for it. 

The library board raised taxes again. Normally that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Communities need libraries. They are a gathering place and foster creativity and allow people who may not have access to the world an opportunity to explore things through books and the use of their computers. 

Pike County has several libraries. The newest one is off U.S. 23 by Food City. It’s a multi-million building that is being paid for by tax dollars. That building replaced the old library on Hambley Boulevard that is near the UPike campus. 

When some library space vacated downtown for the new building, they were approached by the university to purchase that part of the building so the university can expand its own library. The university, at the time, agreed to keep it open to the public and offered them a substantial price, well above appraised value. The board turned them down. So now the taxpayers are paying for two libraries less than five miles apart, while the growing university could really use that building. 

Recently, Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones inquired about the business dealings of the library, one thing on which we have been harping for years. What was discovered, was, in addition to an increase in taxes, they are sitting on over $3 million in cash and just purchased two pieces of property, of which they have no plans for at this time. 

Jones needs to take this issue up at the state level as he has no control over the library board. The board chairman lives in Lexington and he is pulling all the strings for the board. The board can raise taxes whenever they feel, they can make any purchase they want without outside approval and they apparently feel like they don’t have to be accountable to anyone. Jones asked for information that they didn’t provide.

There are six libraries in the county, of which four are closed Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. The main one by Food City is closed on Sunday and Monday and the downtown branch is closed Saturday and Sunday. All branches have limited hours.

We need libraries, there is no doubt about that. The district needs to be more transparent and the branches should be more accessible to the public. The entire board needs to reside in Pike County, they need to sell the downtown branch to the university, they don’t need to be sitting on $3 million plus in cash, they don’t need to acquire more property for untold reasons and they don’t need to continuously raise taxes. 

That may never change if there is no accountability. 

Thanks for reading the News-Express.

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