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October 24, 2013

Local libraries looking for funding

By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Representatives from the Village of Cooperstown Library Board and the Hartwick Kinney Memorial Public Library Board presented to the Cooperstown Central School Board of Education at their meeting last week.

Both libraries seek to find more sustainable funding through “voter approval rather than by municipal budget expenditures,” said Kim Jastremski, president of the Cooperstown Library Board of Trustees, in a press release.

“We both have a situation where our funding is dependent on elected municipal boards,” Kim Jastremski said.

“The problem with this is (it is) considered an insecure source of funding,” Jastremski continued.

She explained that emergency spending or more “hard” budget needs such as repairing roads or funding for fire departments could trump the financial needs of the Village of Cooperstown Library.

“Our current funding is subject to the changing needs of the town and village boards, which are under increased pressure to eliminate services like libraries,” said Cooperstown Library trustee Chuck Newman.

“We would like our funding to be backed by the voters so that it can be more equitable and secure,” Newman continued.

“The reason we want to have a more secure funding source is to continue our services,” Jastremski said. “To continue to provide free Internet so that students can complete their homework.”

The other services the Village of Cooperstown Library offers include book clubs for children and adults, story hours for children, in the summer they offer family nights as well as a summer reading program.

According to Jastremski, 34 percent of the cardholders from the Village of Cooperstown Library are from the town of Cooperstown. But, Cooperstown contributes 70 percent of the funding for the library’s annual budget as well as the utilities and its building location at 22 Main Street in Cooperstown.

The Village of Cooperstown is carrying the majority of the financial needs of the Village Library. The other two towns, Otsego and Middlefield, who also utilize the library’s service, pay for a small fraction of the annual budget, Jastremski said.

The town of Middlefield has 15 percent of the library’s cardholders but only contributes 4 percent to the library’s annual budget.

The town of Otsego has 18 percent of the Village Library’s cardholders, but contributes 8 percent of the funds for the annual budget.

The Village of Cooperstown Library annual budget for this past year was $110,000, which is minimal when compared with other budgets, Jastremski said.

“This is an inequitable situation,” Jastremski said. “We have been researching other ways of funding our budget for over a year.”

The two libraries intend to place a separate resolution for library funding on the 2014 school ballot, Jastremski said in a press release.

This arrangement would follow the stipulations of NYS Education Law 259, “which allows public library funding by voter approval rather than by municipal budget expenditures,” Jastremski said.

“I have no doubt that we have enough community support,” Jastremski said. “Both libraries are very special places in the hearts of people from Cooperstown, Middlefield and Otsego.”

Jastremski said if the voters approved the resolution; the tax would not increase very much for the citizens of these two areas.

“Our main challenge is explaining what we need and that the tax level increase will be pretty minimal,” Jastremski said.

The libraries will host open houses in the near future to meet with the public and explain their plans. The vote will be held on May 20, 2014.