BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A tax dedicated to generating millions for the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is up for approval. The 11.1 library millage has been on the books for 30 years. On October 24, voters will be asked to renew the 10-year tax in order to continue funding the branches.
The director of the system said one example of how they've spent taxpayer money is the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard. It was built in 2014 with more technology to keep up with the demands of the community.
Library Director Spencer Watts said, in the first year, the tax will generate $43 million. If voters renew the tax, it will work out to a little over $100 a year on a $160,000 home.
Watt said the days of just being a place where people check out a book or two are over. The library has now become a place where people have meetings, come to study and where some teens hang out. While the newly renovated Main Branch can now handle those needs, Watts said several others need to be brought up to 21st Century standards.
"We have seven renovations and expansions we'd like to start on with our older buildings over the next 10 years," said Watts.
One of the branches on that list is the Jones Creek location. Watt said that building is 25 years old.
They've discussed a completely new building, with similar features to that of the Main Library. The total cost would be just under $4 million.
According to a packet from library staff, the tax would cover 5 percent of the construction costs, the other 95 percent would be used to cover daily operations such as salaries, utilities, upkeep and books.
A former employee said people don't really need to leave their homes to utilize the library.
"We have free downloadable books. You don't have to pay for them. We have movies you can stream, you don't have to have a Netflix subscription," said Emilie Smart.
Some critics have said the library has too much money. But staffers say without the tax renewal passing, library services will be cut back until the system ceases to exist.