Library supporters to get straw ballot for independent district


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's the first of its kind in Jacksonville. The group Save Our Public Libraries has collected enough signatures for a straw ballot to establish an independent library district.

Library supporters and petition circulators on Tuesday turned in the more than 25,000 signatures needed for the straw ballot to the Supervisor of Elections.

Since August the group has been collecting signatures and met its goal.

The group is trying to protect Jacksonville's libraries from the annual threat of budget cuts.

"One important thing about this petition drive, some libraries might have been closed last year if this petition drive wasn't going on," said Harry Reagan, president of Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library. "What we are doing isn't going to take effect for a year, but it had an impact last year on budget decisions in City Hall, I believe. They were about to close six libraries, then two and then none. A lot of that is due to the common support for libraries."

The group says the move would not raise taxes but would guarantee that a portion of the tax dollars already collected will go to libraries.

The question will be put on the Aug. 26 primary ballot.