Cess Mess: MCC owes Rs. 23 crore library cess
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Cess Mess: MCC owes Rs. 23 crore library cess

November 23, 2023

Mysore/Mysuru: Even as the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is looking at new ways to collect taxes or cess to boost its revenues, it has consistently refused to clear the library cess, despite many reminders and Government orders.

At present, the civic body owes a whopping Rs. 23 crore library cess since the last 10 years to the Department of Public Libraries, severely hampering its day-to-day functioning and administration including payment of salaries to library staff.

According to Karnataka Public Library Act, urban local bodies have to levy a cess of 6 percent on property tax, which they are then required to hand over to the Department of Public Libraries. However, the MCC has not remitted the funds they have collected since years. 

“If MCC does not use the library cess for the development and maintenance of the city libraries, is MCC cheating the tax-payers?” asked a city tax-payer.

Actually, the library cess is used by the Department for development of libraries, including building construction, clearing of vendors’ dues, telephone bills and stationery costs. Due to this, the Department of Public Libraries is already starved of funds and most of the money received by the State Government in the budget allocation goes towards the staff salaries and miscellaneous expenditure.

Not only the MCC, but other local bodies too have not remitted the library cess to the Department of Public Libraries.  Local bodies including Town Panchayats, City Municipal Councils and Municipalities of T. Narasipur, Nanjangud, H.D. Kote, Hunsur, Periyapatna, K.R. Nagar, Bannur, Saragur, Bogadi, Hootagalli, Kadakola, Rammanahalli and Srirampura together owe Rs. 2,61,59,857 to the Department of Public Libraries. While the Mayor is the Chairman of City Libraries Authority, DC  is the Chairman of District Libraries Authority.

Chief Librarian of City Central Library B. Manjunath who is also the Deputy Director, Department of Libraries, Mysuru told Star of Mysore this morning that the MCC has to deposit the cess in the ESCROW account to prevent diversion of funds and to use the collected money for the actual intended purpose. However, the MCC does not do so despite orders from the Urban Development Department.

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“City libraries depend on money collected as library cess from property tax for expenditure on newspapers, periodicals, rent, furniture and even telephone bills. And the MCC has not paid the cess collected to us. Many letters and reminders have been sent to the MCC and the civic body has not cared to give us our share of money. The last letter was written to the MCC on May 23, 2023,” Manjunath said.

There are over 61 libraries in Mysuru including 36 libraries in urban areas (MCC limits) and there are over 60 staff to maintain them. “The employees are outsourced and are paid Rs. 8,000 per month for 10 years. In fact, as per the labour laws, a salary or honorarium of Rs. 13,000 per month has to be paid to them. We are unable to do so as there is a severe fund crunch and the MCC and other local bodies refuse to pay,” he said.

Even the State-level Library Department Directors and the State Chief Secretary have directed MCC to remit the pending amount. Still, the MCC is sitting on our money,”  Manjunath added.

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