Referendum for Library Funding

Referendum for Library Funding

Chapter 414 FAQs

Remember – Flip the Ballot!

In 1995, New York State passed a law designed to help public libraries receive more support from their communities. This law allows libraries to petition to place a proposition on the ballot and to designate the amount that their towns will contribute toward library operations. The law is unique in that it enables voters – rather than town governments – to determine their town’s level of library support.

Why is the Claverack Free Library (CFL) seeking an increase in funding?
The CFL is the heart of our community and is much more than a place to borrow books. Today’s library is a vibrant social center and technology hub, with extensive and varied free programming offered for all ages. Boosted by technological advances over the past two decades, the CFL now serves growing numbers of patrons who rely upon free access to the Internet to enhance their personal, educational, cultural, and professional lives.

It is important to note that the requested funding
can be applied only to the library’s annual
operating budget.

No local tax money will be used to create the
new library and community center.

How does the Chapter 414 Referendum work?
Providing enough registered voters sign the petition, a proposition will appear on the ballot on Election Day on November 7, 2017, and the voters will then decide. If the proposition passes, the town of Claverack’s support for the CFL will be fixed at $63,500 per year and cannot be increased without future approval from voters.

What will this increase mean to the residents of Claverack?
If the entire cost of this proposition is passed on to property owners – which will not necessarily happen – the increase adds $ 0.90 (to the current $10.46) for a total of $11.36 per $100,000 of assessed value. The town may find other sources of revenue (from a surplus, for example), which will result in a smaller increase for taxpayers.

The amount requested from the town is $5,000.

How was the amount of increase determined?
Only twice since 2003 has an increase been sought, while the operating budget has risen significantly to meet the additional costs associated with salaries, associated benefits, heating, building maintenance and technology. These rising costs are in direct response to patrons’ needs and the number of free services offered.

For comparison, the CFL’s operating budget was $70,070 in 2003; the 2017 budget is set at $108,950.

What have other libraries in New York done?
The Mid-Hudson Library System recommends that libraries go to voters every several years to approve regular increases to keep pace with rising costs of operating effective libraries. System-wide in 2015 and 2016 more than 95% of the votes requesting additional funding were successful.

Is this a new tax?
No. Voters are asked to approve a line item that already exists in the town budget. The Town Board could decide to raise taxes if it is unable to find room in the budget for the approved library funding.

How much local tax money does the CFL now receive?
The town of Claverack provides $58,500 per year to the Library, which is approximately 53% of the Library’s annual operating budget. The CFL also receives $500 from the town of Taghkanic and, like all libraries in the county, $5,700 from Columbia County.

How does the CFL compare to other libraries in Columbia County?
Per capita countywide, the CFL maintains the second-lowest funding level of all county libraries and receives approximately half as much funding from its town than most other libraries.

When and if approved, does it mean the CFL can stop private fundraising?
Absolutely not. The requested budget increase does not reflect the library’s need. In order to keep the budget as modest as possible, the library will continue to rely on voluntary donations from individuals, foundations, and local businesses, as well as proceeds from book sales and other special fundraising events.

What if the proposition is defeated?
The Claverack Free Library will have little choice but to come back next year and ask again, for the library cannot sustain, much less improve, vital services without an increase in funding.

Please contact the Library for more information. The library’s staff and trustees will be delighted to tell you more.

This message was produced and paid for by volunteers.