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Pending Appeals Court Decision May Cost Kentucky Libraries

Robert Claypool/Flickr

Kentucky public library systems could lose crucial funding pending the outcome of a state Court of Appeals ruling expected in the next couple of months.

The Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday on a case that challenges how a majority of public library systems across the state tax residents.

The decision would impact most of the 106 Kentucky library systems created by petition before the law was enacted, according to reports in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

About 70 library buildings in the state would close if the courts rule against libraries, said retiring Louisville Free Public Library director Craig Buthod, citing the Kentucky Public Library Association .

Buthod said Louisville's library system would not be affected by the court's decision—but many surrounding counties would be.

"There are voices in the legislature, both Republican and Democrat, who say we cannot allow our libraries to be closed," he said. "A lot of those voices are coming from counties where libraries would be put out of business altogether."

At question is whether libraries fall under a special taxing district spelled out in a law passed in 1979. Since then, libraries have claimed they've been able to raise taxes up to 4 percent without voter approval.

But the individuals who filed the lawsuit have said that these library systems need to petition residents before raising taxes, since the system themselves were created through petitions.

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