Library status quo

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sometimes what appears to be a problem really isn't. That certainly appears to be the case concerning Cape Girardeau residents who are in the city but outside the service area of the Cape Girardeau Public Library because of lines drawn in 1965 before the city limits expanded.

Because library districts are taxing entities, and because boundary disputes can be nettlesome affairs, the Missouri Legislature drew boundaries 40 years ago for library districts all over the state.

From time to time, this has been an issue. City residents who live outside the local library district are in the Riverside Regional Library district. Riverside libraries serve several communities in Southeast Missouri. In order for Cape Girardeau residents in the Riverside district to use the Cape Girardeau Public Library, they must pay an annual fee on top of the taxes paid to the Riverside district.

As it turns out, the 470 residents in Cape Girardeau and also in the Riverside library district pay about half the tax to the Riverside district that they would owe if they were brought into the Cape Girardeau district. For that and other reasons -- all the libraries in the area provide good services, for example -- there was little response to letters or attendance at a recent public meeting on the topic.

Even though response was sparse, it was informative. Cape Girardeau library officials now have a solid indication that the boundary issue really isn't that big a deal. Just as important is the opportunity the letters and meeting afforded residents to have their say. It was worth the effort.

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