The Taneyhills Community Library has taken its first steps toward reintroducing a discussion for a library tax.
During a Taney County Commission meeting on Feb. 4, Taneyhills Community Library Director Marcia Schemper-Carlock presented commissioners with an update on the state of, and the needs of, the library. Schemper-Carlock said, while the goal of the presentation was to make the commissioners aware of the library’s continued growth, she also wanted to express the need for a future tax proposal or other county funding.
“At this point, we need to have a library commission established,” said Schemper-Carlock. “At the end of the day, we just need funding. That’s the reality of it. In order for us to proceed forward and be impactful in this community, we have got to get some serious funding behind us.”
In December 2012, the Taney County Commission approved the placement of a library tax on the April 2013 election ballot. While the Taney County Library Board originally requested a 20 cent tax levy per $100 of assessed valuation, the commission decided to bring that number down to 15 cents. The library tax failed with nearly 65 percent of Taney County residents voting against it, according to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives.
“I think why it’s failed previously was there wasn’t a clear vision on what they hoped to accomplish,” said Schemper-Carlock. “The situation of library services in Taney County was very poor at that time, and I think there was skepticism, on the voters’ part, of what are we really going to get for that money, because we’re getting no value from this right now. I think since then, we have proven, yes, this is the value that you can get from supporting the library. And look at these wonderful services, and the improvements that we have made, when you get a little bit of money.”
That little bit of money arrived in the form of a $350,000 grant from the Stanley and Elaine Ball Foundation in 2015. With those funds, the library was able to add a conference room and update the children’s library with educational gaming tablets, kid-friendly computers and new books.
Fast forward to 2019 and Taneyhills has a yearly budget of $181,000. With no tax funding from the city or county, the library is solely funded by library fees and sales from its thrift shop and used book store. Schemper-Carlock said if the voters would be willing to approve at least a 10 cent levy, she believes there would be enough money to tackle the everyday issues the library faces.
“We are understaffed, and we desperately need people with library science degrees to come in and offer a children’s reading program, or be a children’s librarian, or somebody that’s been a media specialist in the school system,” she said.
“The other issue that we’re looking at, which is becoming an immediate need, is our facility on 4th Street. We have outgrown that space, and we have talked to a local contractor and they’re saying, you know you could build a second floor on top of that building. We think that might be an economical solution to our space needs. That way we can build a better community space.”
Schemper-Carlock also explained that if Taneyhills were to be supported by a 10 cent levy or an equivalent amount of funding from the county, they would meet the minimum requirements to become a certified public library.
With this certification, the library would have access to a bigger and more stable internet pipeline and funding and services from the Library Service Technology Act.
In an email from Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel, he confirmed a 10 cent levy would bring in a little more than $1 million a year.
“The main thing that I would like to emphasize is that I would really like to see them become enthusiastic and passionate about offering a service to the residents of Taney County that they so deserve,” said Schemper-Carlock. “I am just amazed at the lack of services, that we as residents, get from our county commissioners, and this is a great opportunity for them to step forward, be a champion of literacy, of recreational reading, of education, and add value to being a resident of Taney County.
“And I hope that’s an opportunity they take advantage of.”