Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

East Lake library board asks county to weigh taxing district

PALM HARBOR — The East Lake Community Library Advisory Board wants some face time with the County Commission.

This week the advisory board sent a letter to the county requesting that the "governance issue regarding the East Lake Community Library be placed on the BOCC agenda as soon as possible for a vote regarding the creation of a dependent or independent taxing district for the library.''

Currently, East Lake residents, like all residents in unincorporated Pinellas County, pay a county tax that goes to the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. The co-op was setup to provide a way to pay city libraries for providing services to county residents in unincorporated areas.

However, in East Lake, taxpayers pay more than twice as much in property taxes for library services as they get back for their small library.

And the East Lake library is not independent, instead being overseen by the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, which also governs the Palm Harbor Library and Palm Harbor parks and recreation department.

This is not the first time governing the East Lake library has been talked about by the County Commission. Roger Johnson, a member of the library advisory board, appeared before the commission July 31.

"We've kind of been a cash cow up here," Johnson said of East Lake's taxes for libraries. "We want to fund our own library and we want to manage our own library."

The Community Services Agency at its meeting this week agreed to also send county commissioners a letter that supports the advisory board's request for a taxing district in East Lake to support the community's library.

Patricia Perez, director of the East Lake Community Library, hopes commissioners will agree to put the library on their Sept. 6 agenda. She also wants to discuss the library's need for more funding.

"(The budget) is a separate issue,'' she said. "But we also have a need to ask for additional funds this year, and we need to do it by Sept. 6.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

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