Wayne Public Library Bd. of Trustees v. Wayne County Fiscal Court

Decision Date10 October 1978
Citation572 S.W.2d 858
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

Morris E. Burton, Frankfort, for movants.

Thomas E. Carroll, Monticello, for respondent.

LUKOWSKY, Justice.

This case involves a second attack on the constitutionality of the "Petition Method" of organizing and financing a public library district. KRS 173.710 through KRS 173.800. The Wayne Circuit Court held that the entire process passed constitutional muster. The Court of Appeals held that the "Petition Method" could constitutionally bring the district into existence and require the Wayne Fiscal Court to levy a reasonable tax to support the district, but that it could not constitutionally fix the tax rate. We affirm the Wayne Circuit Court and reverse the Court of Appeals.

The "Petition Method" was conceived by the legislature in Chapter 92 of the Acts of 1964. Its parentage was reacknowledged by the legislature by minor amendments in Chapter 154 of the Acts of 1966, Ch. 241 of the Acts of 1970, Ch. 223 of the Acts of 1972, and Ch. 384 of the Acts of 1978. The constitutional legitimacy of these statutes was attested by this court in Boggs v. Reep, Ky., 404 S.W.2d 24 (1966). These statutes have been before this court for interpretation in Shreve v. Taylor County Public Library Board, Ky., 419 S.W.2d 779 (1967); Holmes v. Hume, Ky., 424 S.W.2d 824 (1968); Meredith v. Sears, Ky., 427 S.W.2d 813 (1968); Padgett v. Sensing, Ky., 438 S.W.2d 501 (1969); Aldridge v. Slusher, Ky., 446 S.W.2d 636 (1969); Miller v. Bell, Ky., 453 S.W.2d 746 (1970); Graves County Public Library District Board of Trustees v. Graves County Fiscal Court, Ky., 479 S.W.2d 27 (1972); Crafton v. Board of Trustees of the Henderson-Henderson County Public Library, Ky., 554 S.W.2d 82 (1977) and the issue of their constitutionality was not raised.

The Kentucky Department of Libraries reports that so far seventy-two of the one hundred and six library districts in Kentucky have been formed and are operating pursuant to the "Petition Method." No doubt by this time leases have been made, real estate has been acquired, equipment has been purchased and books have been obtained in reliance on the validity of these statutes.

This attack is based on arbitrariness, and creation of a taxing district and imposition of a tax without a vote of the people. The position taken is fairly debatable only because of Boggs (Supra ), provides but inferential negative answers to these issues. The outcome of the debate is not obvious. It is at best doubtful and speculative. However, the threshold question is whether, as a matter of orderly development of public institutions, this court should entertain further constitutional attacks on these library districts.

These statutes have been on the books for almost fifteen years. The legislature has favored them with frequent consideration and amendment throughout the period. After their first resistance to constitutional attack, they have been tacitly treated by this court, the bar and the people of this commonwealth as constitutional. These statutes have been interpreted and applied in numerous cases without constitutional objection being made by counsel where it was in the interest of one side or the other to make it. When over two-thirds of the library districts in Kentucky are the children of these statutes, there can be no doubt that many important and valuable rights, obligations and services have vested.

It is an ancient and pragmatic principle of law that when acts have been long accepted as constitutional and important rights have been based thereon, ...

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3 cases
  • Coleman v. Campbell Cnty. Library Bd. of Trs.
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • January 5, 2018
    ...of the Court’s holding, specifically the following passage discussing the principles of Wayne Public Library Board of Trustees v. Wayne County Fiscal Court , 572 S.W.2d 858 (Ky. 1978) :In Wayne, the Supreme Court addressed a second attack on the constitutionality of the provisions of KRS Ch......
  • Campbell Cnty. Library Bd. of Trs. v. Coleman
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • March 20, 2015
    ...was also a member of the Kentucky Supreme Court that rendered a unanimous opinion in 1978 in Wayne Public Library Board of Trustees v. Wayne County Fiscal Court, 572 S.W.2d 858 (Ky.1978). In Wayne, the Supreme Court addressed a second attack on the constitutionality of the provisions of KRS......
  • Miller v. Powell, s. 83-CA-429-M
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • July 6, 1984
    ...including that upon the constitutionality of KRS 173.720 upheld by our Supreme Court in Wayne County Public Library Board of Trustees v. Wayne County Fiscal Court, Ky., 572 S.W.2d 858 (1978), have been carefully considered and we find them without The final question is presented by the cros......

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