Some unfinished business hangs over Kanawha County going into the new year: dependable funding for the Kanawha County Public Library.
The Kanawha County Board of Education is still mostly paying its share for support of Kanawha's first-class library system, even though the state Supreme Court ruled that it is not required to do so.
But library funding is vulnerable to vagaries of the school board's budget. That makes it difficult to plan, hire and upgrade technology as a modern library needs to do.
A better solution would be a set amount of public support, approved by voters, going to the library system each year.
That's where the Kanawha County Board of Education comes in. While the library board lacks tax-levying power, the school board has authority to ask voters to approve an excess property tax levy for the library.
Voters overwhelmingly defeated the school board's excess levy request in November. But that was for $24 million, most of which was for various school expenses around the county.
Many people commented they would have gladly supported a smaller levy request just for the library, something in the neighborhood of $3 million.
The Kanawha County Board of Education should perform this ministerial duty by putting such a question on a ballot for voters in the coming year, without clouding the issue with a long and expensive wish-list.
Kanawha countians of all ages and all educational stages have enjoyed a reliable, evolving library for generations. The library has been able to serve the county largely because it has received a modest but reliable annual income.
As months of uncertainty and decreased funding drag on, the library has cut hours and services, qualified for less state funding and lost employees.It is time to put the Kanawha County Public Library back on secure financial footing.