Voters Will Decide Whether to Pay for New Libraries in Christian Co.

OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - There is a lot to check out at the Christian County library. Now, administrators hope to expand the offerings to more people.

"I enjoy coming over and reading the newspapers and the publications that they have (and) checking out a book every once in a while," said Joe Mullins, a Nixa resident.

Mullins has to drive all the way from Nixa, as do thousands of other neighbors around Christian County. That's because this facility, built in Ozark 43 years ago, is the only one for this growing county.

"We are serving a population of 80,000 from a building built for 11,000 to 15,000," said library assistant director Katy Pattison.

Leaders are trying to plan. Next August, voters will decide whether to open a new chapter in their library's history. Initiatives in recent years to build a big new central library between Ozark and Nixa were shot down at the ballot box.

"I think there was a lot of misunderstanding last time of what we were asking for. This time around we have changed the plan around a bit," said Pattison.

Now, plans call for everyone to have their own hometown library. It will entail upgrading the one in Ozark, while building new branches in Nixa and, eventually, Sparta and Clever.

"There is no amount of money that would be too much, honestly," Pattison said. "But, if we could raise $2 million, or something like that, that would help us get a really good start on that."

The last time voters approved a library tax levy was 1972 at 20 cents (per each $100 of assessed valuation). That was cut back to 8 cents in 1984 when the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution, approved by voters, limited tax rates across the state. In the vote planned for August, Christian County voters will be asked to reinstate the 20 cents

"Taxes are always tricky. And we think we can make a case for it," said Pattison.