PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh may have the word “free” above its door, but rising costs have plagued the Library in recent years — even threatening to close some of its 18 city neighborhood branches.

Now supporters hope city voters will approve a special real estate tax when they vote on November 8.

“It turns out to be on a $100,000 of taxable real estate only $2.09 a month,” says Brian Johnson, a spokesman for Our Library/Our Future, a citizens group urging a “yes” vote on the referendum.

That’s about $25 a year on every $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Johnson, who is the city police detective who was injured last year in a 15-mile police chase from Garfield to Monroeville, sees neighborhood libraries as key to reducing crime.

“I really do believe as a police officer and city resident that if we have an educated populace and a populace that is able to get the books and read and learn to comprehend and move on in life with education, we can reduce the crime rate by far,” Johnson told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.

But even some supporters doubt that voters will vote “yes.”

“Most people categorically say ‘no’ unfortunately,” says Rubin, who will vote in favor of the tax.

A Civic Science poll show a slight majority favoring the quarter-mill tax hike — 53 percent “yes,” 34 percent “no,” and 13 percent undecided.

Johnson is optimistic about city voters.

“They understand that if their children are going to be part of it, they need to be educated and to read, and they see the value.”

Asking people to raise taxes on themselves is always challenging and often goes down to defeat in other referendum.

What’s really key here is who turns out to vote and how much they care about their local library.

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