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Arizona library bill: Concerns about closures, cuts to branches

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

The Arizona Library Association, along with Maricopa and Pima County Library Districts are opposing a bill in the Arizona House, saying the proposed legislation could result in big library cuts and closures in our state.

The bill would affect county libraries -- there are 17 in Maricopa County.  It would essentially cap how property taxes can be increased to fund libraries and it has library supporters nervous.

Donna Woodfill, a retired librarian from Iowa, was visiting a Maricopa County library when we told her about a state bill that some say would jeopardize library funding.

"I'm just in favor giving libraries all they can get," she said.

County libraries are funded by property taxes.  Right now, a county board of supervisors control how much property taxes are raised to support libraries.

House Bill 2379 would cap that amount at two percent.

The Arizona Library Association says it should be left up to the local board to decide what the increase should be, not the state.  They go on to say the two percent cap could result in closures and staffing cuts at county libraries across the state.

"It is difficult sometimes to get the funding that they need, especially when someone walks in and sees all these books and doesn't see very many people around at times.. then they think oh, they don't need any help," said Woodfill.

Woodfill points out cleaning costs and electricity.

"The cost of the computers available to the public.. all those things cost money.  More than the local authorities realized."

"I myself don't read books," said Charlie Rubio, who supports a two percent cap.  "I pay like $2,000 a year in taxes, so what do they get? $20 from everybody. That ought to be more than enough."

The Arizona Library Association couldn't tell us what an acceptable limit would be to increase property taxes to pay for libraries.

The Pima County Library District wants no limits.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Justin Olson, has not returned our phone calls.

HB 2379: Special districts; secondary levy limits
Click Here for a summary/fact sheet

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