Henderson Libraries is proposing a tax increase to help with budget shortfalls

In an effort to keep all its facilities open and to continue offering its services to the community, Henderson Libraries is proposing a 2-cent tax rate increase to help counteract a 30 percent budget decrease.

If the proposal doesn’t pass in the Nov. 6 election, Henderson Libraries will be forced to close the Lydia Malcolm Library, 2960 Sunridge Heights Parkway, and the Galleria Library, inside the Galleria at Sunset mall at 1300 W. Sunset Road, and make other cuts.

“That is not a might (close),” said Tom Fay, executive director of Henderson Libraries. “That is a will close. We would have to.”

The staff of both libraries would be laid off as well, he said.

In addition, Fay said, the district would have to consider closing the library inside the Heritage Park Senior Facility, 300 S. Racetrack Road.

“We wouldn’t know until we looked at the budget more,” Fay said.

Currently, the library receives 5.75 cents per $100 in assessed property value.

Fay said that before the recession, about 65 percent of the revenue Henderson Libraries received came from this tax, while the remainder came from consolidated taxes. The amount of revenue the library district received from the property tax increased to about 75 percent in the past few years because of the economic downturn.

“The consolidated tax dropped dramatically after the recession,” Fay said. “When it did, we had to make a shift.”

Henderson Libraries since has taken about a 30 percent loss in revenue.

“It’s about $3 million,” Fay said.

The library district made adjustments to the budget by reducing hours, staff salaries and services. Fay said the district also has had hiring freezes and asked the staff to take a 10 percent pay cut.

“With less people, it has been harder to keep our doors open as often,” Fay said. “Yet we still have people coming.”

Fay said that by the end of the summer, he foresees reducing library hours again.

Friends of Henderson Libraries and the Henderson Libraries Foundation, which were founded to help the district, have tried to help with revenue shortfalls.

Fay said Friends of Henderson Libraries has raised about $135,000 a year for materials.

“The (Henderson Libraries) Foundation raised nearly $100,000 in its first year out,” Fay said. “But that is still in contrast to a $3 million hole.”

If approved by voters, the tax rate would increase 2 cents to 7.75 cents per $100 in assessed property value.

According to Fay, the district’s last tax increase was in 1991.

The Henderson library district currently receives less than other Clark County library districts: North Las Vegas receives 6.32 cents, Boulder City receives 8.55 cents and Clark County receives 9.42 cents per $100 in assessed property value.

In revenue dollars, Henderson Libraries receives an average of $24.38 per person. The national average is $32.83, while the state average is $29.28.

“Henderson has always been fiscally conservative,” Fay said. “We didn’t want to tax more if we didn’t have to.”

Fay has been speaking to community groups about the proposal.

Fay added that a political action committee has been formed to get the word out about the proposal and the election.

“It is moving at a grass-roots level,” Fay said. “People have to believe (in the proposal) and inform a friend.”

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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