Public Library Districts

Texas communities now have two laws for the establishment of public library districts. One law passed in 1997 and was amended in 1999 and 2001. A multi-jurisdictional library district law passed in 2005 and was amended in 2007.

I. THE 1997 LIBRARY DISTRICTS ACT and AMENDMENTS

In 1997, the 75th Legislature passed Senate Bill 1674, relating to the creation, administration, powers, duties, operation, and financing of library districts in Texas. This legislation allows the formation of library taxing districts and permits voters to choose to dedicate a portion of their sales tax revenue to support library services. The provisions of the Library Districts Act are found in Title 10, Local Government Code, Chapter 326.

Supporters of Westbank Community Library introduced the original library district legislation in order to provide an ongoing, substantial source of funding for Westbank Community Library. The Library Districts Act was amended in 1999 by House Bill 1618 and amended in 2001 by House Bill 440.

By 2007, the number of Library Districts in Texas has grown to fifteen. Voters have approved the creation of the following library taxing districts:

  • Benbrook Library District
  • Forest Hill Library District
  • Blanco County South Library District
  • Blanco County North Library District
  • Bulverde Area Rural Library District
  • Canyon Lake Community Library District
  • Dripping Springs Community Library District
  • East Travis Gateway Library District
  • Salado Public Library District
  • Wells Branch Community Library District
  • Westbank Community Library District
  • Wimberley Village Library District
  • Liberty Hill Public Library District
  • Timpson Public Library district
  • Lake Travis Community Library District

II. THE 2005 MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL LIBRARY DISTRICTS ACT

Library District legislation was further enhanced during the 79th Regular Legislative Session in 2005 by passage of Senate Bill 1205 creating multi-jurisdictional library districts. This new Multi-Jurisdictional Library Districts Act allows for the creation of a library district by a county or municipality that, by resolution, assumes the role of a lead governmental entity. A district created under this chapter may call an election for the purpose of approving a sales tax or an ad valorem tax, or both, on property in the district. The multi-jurisdictional library district may issue bonds to acquire, construct, equip, or improve district facilities. The provisions are found in Title 10, Local Government Code, Chapter 336.

Because of uncertainty as to whether statutory authority is sufficient to allow a Multi-Jurisdictional Library District to assess and collect ad valorem taxes or whether a constitutional amendment is needed to provide this specific authority, the Texas State Library and Archives requested an official opinion on these questions. In his May 12, 2008 Opinion No. GA-0626 Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot responded in summary as follows:

Summary: The Texas Supreme Court has not determined whether the Texas Constitution impliedly prohibits the Legislature from allowing a political subdivision to impose ad valorem taxes absent express constitutional authorization. However, the authority that exists indicates that a court would more likely than not find that express constitutional authority is necessary for legislation permitting a multi- jurisdictional library district established under Government Code chapter 336 to impose an ad valorem tax.

If the ad valorem tax authorized by Local Government Code chapter 336 were constitutional, the library district board could have the tax collector of the lead governmental entity collect and remit taxes to the district. Although section 336.251 limits the board's authority to negotiate the tax collector's compensation, it appears that the Legislature may amend this provision without also amending the constitution.

The full-text of Opinion No. GA-0626 is accessible online at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/opinions/50abbott/op/2008/htm/ga-0626.htm

III. LIBRARY DISTRICT RESOURCES

The following resources including the Library Districts legislation and Internet Web sites are suggested for an understanding of the creation and implementation of library districts:

Library District Legislation - Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 326
Current through 80th Legislature, Regular Session (2007)

Library District Legislation – Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 336
Current through 80th Legislature, Regular Session (2007)

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Library District Sales Tax
A four page brochure dated June 2004.

Westbank Community Library Creating and Implementing a Library District
Beth Fox, Westbank Community Library Director provides information on creating and implementing a library district.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts SPD Sales and Use Tax
List of special purpose districts (SPD's) including library districts.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Local Sales Tax Rate Search
Actual sales tax rate within a specific area.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Allocation Historical Summary
Historical information about the sales tax revenue collected in a specific area.

Texas Library Association - Library District Discussion Group meeting (January and July) is open to all. Meetings include two hours of training on library district issues presented by board members and directors. A 2.5 hour afternoon session for Treasurers and Investment Officers meets the legislative requirement for training on the Public Information Act. For information, contact Beth Fox, Director Westbank Community Library at 512-314-3580 or beth@westbank.lib.tx.us.

Texas State Library and Archives districts — Texas public library taxing district list
This electronic list is a forum and archives for discussion and information for Texas library taxing districts. Membership is open to anyone interested in library taxing districts.

Content from System Orientation Manual, Chapter 7 (updated July 2007)

 

Page last modified: July 9, 2012