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Books line the shelves in the Chenier branch of the Lafayette Parish Public Library Friday, January 18, 2019, in Lafayette, La.

Trying to balance the need for money with voter support for an upcoming tax renewal and anti-tax sentiment of the Parish Council, the Lafayette Parish Library Board is recommending the council keep its property millage rates the same as this year, bringing in about $630,000 less than in 2019.

Library Director Danny Gillane presented the board Monday with four options regarding two property taxes. Every year, the Parish Council may either roll millages up, down or keep them the same, which can bring more money or less money to the library.

The other three options Gillane offered would have rolled one or both millages forward, generating more money, but still not what the taxes produced in 2019 because property values in the parish dropped in 2020 for the first time since the 1980s.

The board settled on asking the council to keep the taxes at 2.91 mills and 1.84 mils.

"There is no guarantee that they’re going to do this," Gillane said of the Parish Council. "They have things they’re considering."

The Parish Council has the ultimate decision on the millage rates. Past decisions by the council and voters cut the library system's $26 million savings in 2018 to about $7 million.

5 tax renewals, 1 rededication on Oct. 9 ballot in Lafayette Parish

The 1.84-mill property tax goes before voters Oct. 9 for renewal.

In April 2018, voters failed to renew one of three property taxes for the libraries, cutting revenue by about $3.5 million a year.

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In 2019, the City-Parish Council failed to roll a 1.84-mill library millage forward, costing the library system about $300,000 in tax revenue annually. 

Voters in October 2019 voted to transfer $10 million from the library savings to drainage and roads at the request of former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux.

When property values dropped about 6.6% in 2020, the Parish Council could have increased the library system's millage rates to bring in the same amount of money as the prior year, but the Parish Council rejected the move after Mayor-President Josh Guillory vetoed an ordinance to increase the library taxes. It cost the library system about $750,000 a year.

Newest board member wants library to stop offering recreation, cultural enrichment

Also on Monday, Robert Judge, the newest library board member appointed in February and a vocal opponent of the library before getting appointed, attempted to resurrect a change in the library's mission statement that would narrow services by removing "recreation and cultural enrichment."

The board tabled the matter in April and it wasn't on Monday's agenda, but Judge asked the board to waive its rules and place the matter up for discussion and a vote without public notice. He failed to muster the votes needed to bring the issue up for discussion, but said he would ask that it be placed on the August meeting agenda.

The library board on Monday also agreed to change the hours of operation of the main library in downtown Lafayette and South Regional Library on Johnston Street to match the hours of operation of its other libraries, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays.

Gillane said savings will be about $12,000 a year. He will determine a start date for the new library hours.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.