The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board has two new faces on it — after the Metro Council voted Wednesday to replace two of the longest-serving members on the board.
Terms expired for both Stan Bardwell and Tanya Freeman, the latter of whom was the board president. Both had come under fire by Metro Council members in recent weeks after supporting a proposal to ask voters for a slight tax increase this fall when the agency’s tax comes up for a renewal.
Bardwell did not ask to be reappointed to the board, but Freeman did.
The new board members are Donald Luther Jr., a local businessman who owns a driving school, and Kathy Wascom, who has previously worked for both the East Baton Rouge Parish and LSU libraries.
Asked their opinions about the board’s recent move to seek a tax increase, both demurred.
Luther said he couldn’t comment until further review of the library’s finances.
He said he is supportive of a tax renewal generally speaking, but doesn’t yet know if that would require the full amount that is currently in place.
Wascom said she doesn’t think the board has communicated well with the Metro Council about why it needs the tax dollars it has asked for.
Wascom and Luther are both familiar faces to Metro Council members. Both frequently attend council meetings and are active in local government.
They beat out two high-profile conservatives in Rick Bond, who unsuccessfully ran for District 66 state representative, and J Hudson, who worked on Paul Dietzel II’s unsuccessful congressional campaign and served as a personal assistant to Herman Cain during his 2012 failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Library Board has been under pressure from the Metro Council in recent weeks ever since voting 4-2 to ask the council to place on the fall ballot the same 11.1-mill property tax that voters approved in 1995 and 2005. Right now, the tax is at 10.78 mills because of rollbacks made when property values increased.
The new tax would translate to higher property tax bills.
The Metro Council is expected to vote in May on whether to place the library’s proposed 11.1-mill tax on the ballot or whether to propose a lower tax.