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Moniteau County Library vote passes easily

Moniteau County Library vote passes easily

November 8th, 2017 by David Wilson in News

Wood Place Library in California

Once again Moniteau County will have a library, and this time it will be a legal entity.

Two related ballot issues passed easily in Tuesday's Moniteau County election. Both had to pass for the county library district to come into existence.

Voters approved the establishment of the Moniteau County Library by a vote of 1,218-396. They also voted 1,114-494 to approve a tax rate of 12 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation to fund the library. This tax is the same rate paid by the voters of the city of California and the voters of the Western subdistrict.

The election drew 1,616 voters, more than 20 percent of those 8,050 registered in Moniteau County.

The newly approved library includes the entire county, except for the municipal area of Tipton, which has its own city library district, approved by Tipton voters in August.

The vote for a county library district came in part as a result of the donation of the Wood Place Library in December 2013 to the old Moniteau County Library, instituted after a 1997 vote appeared to approve it. That vote, however, only covered six school districts, not the entire county.

A 2015 lawsuit was filed against the Moniteau County Library District and the County Library Board by the city of Tipton and three taxpayers.

The lawsuit claimed only a vote in Western subdistrict was valid and all funds should go to the Price James Library in Tipton. The suit held the library board's December 2013 acceptance of a donation of California's Wood Place Library and renaming it as the "Moniteau County Library at Wood Place" was wrong.

Judge Donald Barnes held a succession of hearings and in February ruled the 1997 vote had failed, and the library district was not created legally. Barnes said Missouri statutes say there has to be a majority of the votes in the county for a tax levy to pass. Since there was not a majority of votes in the county for the district, "it did not pass and did not exist."

The county library was dissolved and a receiver was later appointed.

The California library location closed March 1. It reopened with limited hours as the Wood Place Library on May 22, funded by the Elia Wood Paegelow Foundation.

The new taxes will be collected beginning next year and will begin funding library operations in 2019. The library at California, known as the Wood Place Library, is currently operating on minimal funding by the foundation and private donors.