A recent Facebook post by State Representative Proctor is not accurate. The elected City Commission has always had authority over the Library budget. They have exerted this authority by passing Charter Ordinances that cap how much money the City collects for the Library. Charter Ordinances were passed in 1971, 1985 and 1986. The 1986 Ordinance set the cap at 3.75 mills and it has not changed since then.

The Library Board does not have the authority to “raise taxes” or “demand” a tax increase. The Board can only budget within the legal cap set by the elected City Commission. Abiding by the law isn’t “forcing” the City in any way.

Mr. Proctor praises the “tax hawks” on the City Commission. There is no grand theory of “revenue neutral” at work. It is simple math. The City’s sales tax revenue has skyrocketed and will replace property tax revenue they have decided not to collect. The Leavenworth Public Library does not have that luxury. It depends on City property taxes for 81% of its funding.

“Revenue neutral” is not a synonym for fiscal responsibility. The current Library Board and their predecessors have acted responsibly for 120 years. For the second year in a row, the Library Board has approved a budget that does not require the full 3.75 mills to be collected. This is the fourth time in the last 10 years they have made that choice. Budgeting for a public institution without any change to its basic mill rate in 37 years speaks for itself. Can another public agency in Leavenworth make that statement?

The difference between a “revenue neutral” Library budget in 2024 and the one passed by the Board is .42 mills, a total of $127,617. That breaks down to $.60 a month on a $245,000 home. The Library Board and staff appear to be providing an excellent return on the public’s investment. Compared to 2022, Library circulation is up 49%, the number of people in the Library has increased 88%, the number of borrowers is up 21%, computer use is up 26%, attendance at Library programs is up 69%, public use of Library meeting rooms is up 24%. Representative Proctor is among the people who have used Library meeting rooms regularly.

If the Representative’s goal is to make sure library boards are elected, it is important to note that almost all public library Boards in the US are appointed. This is to keep politics out. Elected officials all over the country are banning books, attacking intellectual freedom, outlawing the teaching of concepts they don’t “believe in.” Inviting that kind of negative influence into public libraries, places that were created to share information and stimulate thought, would be an enormous mistake.

The two-year old “revenue neutral” experiment should not be used to undermine 120 years of cooperation and communication between the City of Leavenworth and the Library Board they appoint. The relationship has been productive, cordial and effective. The whole City benefits when their elected officials and the Library Board work together to fund and provide quality library services.


Pauline Graeber
President of the Library Board of Trustees