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Ravenstahl v libraries continues

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The battle continues between the Ravenstahl administration and the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh. The latest is over a new property tax proposal.

The mayor has long tangled with the library system over funding the libraries say they need to keep all its branches open -- he called for an audit of the system's finances in 2009, which found them to be in decent order but also said "even under the most optimistic projections, maintaining the current cost structure at Carnegie Library will require additional resources for operations and to meet the capital needs" over the next five years.

The system went ahead with planning to fix the longterm financial picture, which came up with options for a new fundraising efforts, library donation incentives and building the library endowment. The plans also included a 0.25 mills increase in property taxes (or $25 per $100,000 of property value), which the system is trying to get approved via a November ballot question.

County Judge Frank Lucchino is leading the library efforts. From Amy Schaarsmith's story today:

"If this is what they want, they have a chance to express it, and if this is not what they want, they have a chance to express that, too," said Judge Lucchino, who led a public-private task force to study the system's financial needs. "I hope, and I know our board hopes, that voters would agree to spend a couple of bucks a month to preserve our libraries."

It's certainly the public's right to vote for the proposal, said Joanna Doven, press secretary for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. But she said the mayor thinks additional property taxes in Pittsburgh are a mistake.

"The mayor is adamantly opposed to any property tax increase," Ms. Doven said. "We believe that it would harm residents, especially those who are lower income and the most vulnerable financially."

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