‘We may possibly have to close everything’: Ballot petition could heavily impact library funding

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:56 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) – A ballot petition presented to the Craighead County Clerk on Tuesday could have “dire” implications on the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library.

According to County Judge Marvin Day, a petition filed by two county residents and two city residents would cut the mills for county property tax from 2 mill to 1 mill.

Craighead County Library Director Vanessa Adams said that is half of the library’s budget.

“If this happens, we will lose all of our programming,” she said “We do outreach to nursing homes, to daycare facilities, we will lose all of that. We will lose our summer reading program. We will lose our after-school programs. We will lose our book clubs. We will lose employees.”

Day said the petition was filed on Sept. 27 by two residents of the county and two residents of the city. He added the county clerk verified the names and addresses.

Adams said she will be contacting the state library board. She believes if the budget is cut, state funding could be cut as well.

“We may possibly have to close everything,” Adams said. “If we lose have half of our funding and a possibility that we lose our state funding, we will probably have to shut our doors. I don’t think that we could keep it open.”

According to Adams, the petition stems from a more than year-long controversy related to a pride display in the Jonesboro library in June 2021 that resulted in multiple protests and dozens of people attending public library board meetings to express their feelings for and against the display.

“These people want to punish us, and they want to take away a huge public service to the people of Craighead County,” Adams said. “We are a business center. The library is a place where people come to look for jobs because we offer computers. We are also a warm facility in the winter and a cold facility in the summer for people who have nowhere else to go.”

Day said as of now, it is his understanding the petition will be on the November ballot for Craighead County residents to vote on. He said the Quorum Court had no opinion on the petition, adding the outcome was “up to the people.”