Updated 08/22/2012 06:21 PM
Voters to decide future of New Hartford Public Library
After five years of steady budget decreases, members of the New Hartford Public Library's Board of Trustees say it's time to make a change in how the organization is funded. Voters in the New Hartford School District will head to the polls Thursday to decide whether they want the library to be rechartered. The change would mean the library's spending plan would be listed as a line item in the district budget and result in more funding, but not everyone's happy with the proposal. Our Sarah Blazonis has details.
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NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. -- Wednesdays are quieter than a typical day at the New Hartford Public Library. On this day, people are greeted with closed signs that ward off its typical cluster of patrons.
"In the morning, you'll see senior citizens lined up to come in," said Linda Romano, president of the library's board of trustees. "If you come here in the afternoon, you'll see students being tutored, you'll see students in the teen section. It's a very, very busy, very crowded library,"
Officials say it's because of the funding cuts of about 25 percent in five years that the public is being asked to decide whether to recharter to a school district library. Right now, the library's funds are listed as a line item in the town budget.
"The past couple years, they haven't met with us first to determine what our needs are, they just tell us what our funding will be," said Romano.
Rechartering would mean library funding would be listed as a line item on the district's budget. If approved, the district would collect the taxes and pass them along to the library. The district's own funds wouldn't be affected. The proposed budget, about $893,000, would remain the same unless the board proposed a new plan.
One trustee says increasing the budget from its current $571,000 is more than taxpayers can handle. They also question pay raises for some key officials as well as a 10 percent pay increase for all employees. The board's president says retirements have made some raises necessary.
"In order to be competitive in the market, we're going to make the best deal in terms of hiring somebody. We're certainly not going to offer the top scale, but we know what comparable library directors and assistant library directors are getting," said Romano.
Ten out of the library's eleven board members approved the proposed budget. Now it will be up to voters to decide its future. Polls will be open at the library from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.