Voters in Pittsburgh will decide on whether to fund the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Tuesday with a Referendum that would increase their property taxes by $25 for every $100,000 in assessed value. The new tax would result in approximately $3.25 million in dedicated annual funding for operating the Carnegie Library’s 20 branch locations.
The Carnegie Library is mostly funded through an additional one percent sales tax in Alleghany County that supports the Regional Asset District (RAD). The funding through RAD is shared with many other competing community endeavors in the county. Carnegie Library’s portion has not been sufficient to keep up with the pace of rising maintenance costs. Thus the Referendum for dedicated funding.
This vote is not an attempt to stop major budget cuts for libraries. Instead, it is a vote to ensure that libraries have sufficient funding for the future. Stopping a massive reduction in library funding is much easier to sell than saying libraries need more money. It will be very interesting to see if voters are willing to increase their taxes to guarantee that libraries have adequate funding in the future.