North Little Rock set to study vote to raise library millage

FILE — The Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library System is shown in this 2014 file photo.

The North Little Rock City Council on Monday will consider a request to call a special election in February that would raise the millage rate residents pay for the city's library system.

Under the proposal for a Feb. 14, 2023, special election, voters will decide whether to increase the current rate of three mills to five mills.

The ballot would state that money from the increased millage will "be used for the maintenance and operation of the public libraries in the city of North Little Rock."

The city's library system has two branches -- the William F. Laman Public Library main branch at 2801 S. Orange Street and the Argenta Branch Library at 420 Main St. in the city's downtown Argenta historic district. The main branch includes a genealogy room, a full-service passport facility and an art gallery, according to the North Little Rock Public Library System website.

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick said that with inflation, everything has gone up in price.

"They need to keep up the operations of not only Argenta, but also to get new books, and that's at the level of resources to kind of keep it going, and books cost like everything else," he said.

Property taxes in Arkansas provide much of the funding for public schools. Depending on the county or where a person lives within a county, the taxes may also pay for other things, such as libraries and sewer systems.

Counties in Arkansas assess property at 20% of the appraised value. The assessment is multiplied by the millage rate to determine the taxes owed. A mill is one-tenth of a cent or 0.001 of a dollar. Each mill is charged against each dollar of assessed value and would therefore produce $1 of tax for each $1,000 of valuation.

A North Little Rock property owner pays 66.8 mills in property taxes overall -- including 48.3 mills for the North Little Rock School District, 5 mills for the municipal general fund, and 1 mill each for the police and fire pension funds, according to the Pulaski County treasurer's office.

A 2-mill property tax increase for the library would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $40 a year and the owner of a $50,000 home would pay an additional $20 a year.

Total property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home would go from $1,336 to $1,376 if the 2-mill proposal is adopted by voters. The owner of a $50,000 home would see the tax bill increase from $668 to $688 a year.

A $100,000 home is assessed at 20 percent of its value, which would be $20,000. That $20,000 multiplied by the proposed 2 mills or 0.002 equals $40.

In November 2021, Little Rock voters approved increasing the millage rate that funds operations and maintenance at the Central Arkansas Library System from 3.3 to 3.8 mills. Library officials sought the operational millage increase -- the first such increase approved in Little Rock since 2007 -- because of costs associated with new facilities and electronic materials as well as a shift away from relying on capital-improvement bond revenue to cover the materials budget.