September 26, 2012A property tax increase for the St. Louis County Library system — Proposition L — will appear on the November ballot, and Clayton officials are reviewing options for the Mid-County branch should voters pass the measure.
At a combined meeting on Sept. 11, the Clayton Board of Aldermen and the Board of Education of the Clayton School District heard from Charles Pace, director of the county library system. County libraries are seeking a six-cent property tax increase from 16.3 cents per $100 of assessed value to 22.3 cents.
Pace said the owner of a $200,000 home can expect to pay an additional $22.80 per year if Prop. L is approved. Residents living in municipalities with their own municipal libraries will not vote on the tax increase.
"Some say that the Internet will make libraries obsolete, but our experiences suggest that the opposite is true," Pace said.
He said county libraries are on track to check out about 14 million items by the end of the year, which would be a record for the system.
If approved, all 20 of the county libraries would be renovated, expanded or even rebuilt. Pace said programming and outreach programs would also be expanded.
If the increase passes, Clayton's Mid-County Branch library would be addressed in three to five years, Pace said. The branch is located in the heart of Clayton, at the intersection of Maryland and Central avenues.
While indicating that "nothing is written in stone," Pace showed plans calling for a new building with roughly 13,000 square feet on each of three floors. The library would be connected to The Center of Clayton, the city's recreational center, at 50 Gay Ave.
New construction could also include an auditorium, a cafe and third-floor library space that would serve students from the neighboring Clayton High School during the day. The third floor would be open to the public in the evening.
Clayton Mayor Linda Goldstein said that if the library is relocated, the Maryland Avenue building could be reclaimed for the city's tax rolls.
Should Prop. L fail, Pace said other options would be explored to fund library system improvements.