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Legislative Breakfast & State Capitol Visits

St. Louis County Library District

Innovation Leader: Gary Holdefer, Associate Director & Comptroller, gholdefer@slcl.org

Problem Statement

Over 90% of the Library’s income is from property taxes. Missouri Statutes govern the assessment of property, setting of tax rates, collection and various tax incentives that can deplete future revenue (tax increment financing, revenue bonds and tax abatement). Missouri’s term limits have created a situation in that there are always new legislators being elected. For example in the 2010 Legislative session there were 15 new State representatives out of 32 from our Library district. Three of our seven Senators replaced termed legislators. It is critical that the Library contact as many local legislators as possible to educate and inform them of the consequences of state legislation.

Innovation

The St Louis County Library held a Legislative Breakfast to inform new and existing legislators of the Library’s revenue situation. Presentations by the Board President, Director and key administrative personnel helped to inform those in attendance of the Library’s financial situation. Foundation staff discussed the corporate partnerships that have generated additional revenue for specific programs. It also allowed staff to present all the services being provided to the legislator’s constituents and how important the St Louis County Library is to the community it serves. Several weeks later in conjunction with the state library association’s legislative day, a team of librarians scheduled meetings with all District legislators especially those not in attendance at the legislative breakfast in Jefferson City at the State Capitol. Informational packets were handed out and discussions held about the individual legislator’s area within the Library District and the branch facility that services their district. The dialogue was very important as the discussions with the legislators revealed many services that the Library could provide to them personally.

Progress

Although the turnout for the breakfast was disappointing, staff did receive some planning information for next year’s event. The team visits in Jefferson City were very beneficial. New legislators were very thankful for the information provided. Many of the new legislators didn’t realize the impact that State legislation could have on the Library’s ability to provided needed services. Each subsequent year staff will continue to keep the contacts made at these events as well as establishing relationships with new legislators.