The Kanawha County Library is preparing to present voters with a library-specific property tax that would provide the library system with about $3 million each year.
That's nearly 40 percent of the system's annual operating budget, and near the amount it regularly received from the Kanawha County school system until February. That's when the state Supreme Court ruled that the 1957 law forcing the school system to help fund the library was unconstitutional, ending a decade-long legal battle and leaving library officials scrambling to come up with another funding source.
Since that decision, the library and school system have been in constant talks, trying to sort out the funding relationship between the two public institutions.
In April, the school board agreed to help support the library for another year, contributing nearly $2 million for the next fiscal year.
But school board members have indicated the funding will end there, and both parties want the library to have an independent funding source. School board president Pete Thaw has been especially vocal in his opposition to any scenario that involves the library receiving additional funding from the school system.
Last month, the school board agreed to let the library take a levy to voters under the school system's umbrella - the library can't do it on its own, but the school system can sponsor a levy to benefit the library.
At their regular meeting Monday, the library's Board of Directors agreed to the idea of that levy - they'll officially vote on whether to approve the plan at their June meeting, when the details are clearer.
"Discussions have been good," President Michael Albert told his fellow library board members. "I think we have the basis or the framework for a settlement discussion."
The levy will probably take place in a special election on a Saturday in November, leaving plenty of time for the library to mount a campaign to get its tax approved.
One of the potential issues with the levy proposal is the question of whether the school board will also ask voters to approve an additional tax for the school system.
The school board has budget issues of its own - a projected $4.5 million deficit in 2014 - and has discussed the possibility of running an additional levy of its own. The deficit comes after the board voted to cap its excess levy last year, in the name of tax relief for the public.
Many school board members have said they now regret that decision and would like to seek additional tax support from the public. But the issue has been contentious, with Thaw saying he will refuse support any move to increase taxes.
The board has yet to take any official action on the issue, but Superintendent Ron Duerring has been asked to develop a plan to present to the board.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.