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June 26, 2014

Successful funding vote leaves library secure

By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The passage of the budget resolution to change the funding mechanism for the Village Library of Cooperstown and the Kinney Memorial Public Library in Hartwick has guaranteed a stable funding source for the two libraries according to library officials.

“Up to now we have had to basically rely on the good graces of the village,” said David Kent, director of the Village Library of Cooperstown. “They have been wonderful but there has always been that slight anxiety that a recession or an unexpected expense on the village could threaten our budget. The fact that we know we have secure funding, along with it being spread more equitably throughout our service area, means we can plan more confidently for the future.”

The May budget resolution asked voters in the Cooperstown Central School District to approve the collection of $180,452 in property taxes annually by the school board to fund the two libraries. The village library will receive $115,452; Kinney will receive $65,000. 

The change will cost taxpayers an additional $15 to $25 in property taxes per household. Supported by the boards of both libraries, the budget resolution passed 638 to 156.

“I was not surprised that it passed,” said Kim Jastremski, president of the Village Library of Cooperstown Board of Trustees. “I was however thrilled … by the amount by which the vote passed.”

Jastremski noted that the resolution passed by a greater amount than the school budget, and said that the vote was a validation of the work that the library does.

The levy will be collected for the first time along with this year’s school taxes. Jastremski said that, had it failed, the village library would have likely had to cut hours.

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said he was happy to see the resolution pass.

One of the impetuses for the budget resolution getting on the ballot according to its supporters was that 76 percent of the budget of the Cooperstown library came from the village, despite only 34 percent of the library’s users residing in the village. The other contributors to the library’s budget were the towns of Otsego and Middlefield and CCS.

“That’s a historic problem,” said Katz.

Katz said that while he had made an effort to get the other municipalities to contribute a greater share of the library’s budget, he had met with little success.

Because of this discrepancy, Katz said that he and the village board of trustees actively supported the initiative. In anticipation of it passing, he said that the village budgeted $44,000 for the library this year, as opposed to the usual $90,000 allotment.

“We basically budgeted about half a years worth,” said Katz, who said that was the amount of money the library board said they would need before funds from the levy would become available.

In order to help ensure the passage of the initiative, the village also hammered out an agreement with the village library that, over the next four years, would see the village continue to provide the library space, utilities, custodial services and treasury and accounting services free of charge, as it has traditionally done.

Katz said that he didn’t see major changes any time soon with those services.

“I don’t expect that conversation to take place for a really long time,” said Katz.

 As for what is next for the Village Library of Cooperstown, Jastremski said that the board is seeking to address maintenance and heating issues at the library building. Replacing the library’s windows is a priority, and the board is turning to grants to fund the project

Jastremski said that the grants the library is applying for look for community support, which she said was demonstrated very strongly by the vote this May.

“This is the proof that we need,” she said.

She also said that there are no plans at this time to ask the voters for an increase in the library’s budget next year.

“We’re really grateful to the voters,” she said.