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Legislation on local library boards moves out of the Senate

Pikeville GOP Senator Phillip Wheeler
Stu Johnson
Pikeville GOP Senator Phillip Wheeler

The Kentucky Senate has taken action to give local county governments more control over community library boards.

Pikeville GOP Senator Phillip Wheeler said there are 118 library taxing districts across Kentucky. He noted, cumulatively, these local boards have a quarter-billion dollars in cash reserves. Wheeler added many boards function well, but there remains a need for county fiscal court oversight.

“I can think of one glaring example in my district where a building that was less than 15 years old, two-thirds of it was torn down, to build a three and a half million dollar addition, which was actually bonded while six and a half million dollars was sitting in the bank,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler told fellow senators boards are currently self-appointing. The Pikeville lawmaker says it’s not about libraries particularly, but instead, potential board abuses.

The legislation would give county fiscal courts some increased power in library board appointments. One of the no votes came from Louisville Democratic Senator Karen Berg who expressed a concern about opening the door to political influence.

“At this point in our society when people are talking about what books we can and can’t have on the shelves, I want to keep these decisions out of the political sphere as much as possible,” said Berg.

The bill moves on to the House.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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