The Stable and Secure Funding for Clinton Community Library Petition sign now

If you agree that our library here in town (the Clinton Community Library) should be allowed to secure a stable, continuing and sustainable source of funding (as libraries in Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Tivoli, Hyde Park, and Stanfordville have done), sign on to this petition, pass it along to all you know here in town, and vote "yes" on the 414 ballot initiative Tuesday, November 4th from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

We have a great little library here in Clinton-- let's make sure it stays strong as a great little library!

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
Clinton/Rhinebeck
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

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[Clinton Community Library: http://Clinton.Lib.ny.us ; 266-5530]

From Clinton Community Library Boardmember Chris DiFrancesco ([email protected])...

Clinton Community Library's 414 Proposition: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1: What is the Library proposing?

Unlike a pool, or other "recreational" facility, the Library is not legally a part of the Town of Clinton, and as a result, the Town Council is not obliged to fund the Library at any specific level. The Clinton Community Library is a separate legal entity (a 501 3(c) corporation, established by the NY State Department of Education) with its own directorship and Board of Trustees. In the absence of mandated municipal funding, it is incumbent upon the Library Board of Trustees to secure sustainable funding for Library operations. Libraries have few options under NY State Law to acquire this funding - the 414 statute is by far the most transparent and appropriate option for a library of our size and place in the community. The majority of Libraries in the five county Mid-Hudson Library System that people consider free public libraries have already passed 414 ballot initiatives to secure their funding; Starr, Red Hook, Tivoli, Hyde Park and Stanfordville all fund their libraries via 414s.

The specific proposal that the Library has put on the ballot is as follows:

SHALL THE ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION OF THE TOWN OF CLINTON FOR THE OPERATING BUDGET OF THE CLINTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY BE AT ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ($110,000) ANNUALLY.

FAQ 2: The Library seems fine the way it is now - why change?

It is the job of any not-for-profit organization to secure stable funding to support the services it provides. The library currently petitions the town board for funding every year, and that funding can change from one year to the next. Establishing an operating budget at present is a very unpredictable process for us. Historically the town board has shown strong support for the library, for which we are most grateful. However, our current level of services and programs demand more funding than the town board has been able to provide. In addition, the town has many more responsibilities than to just the library and could easily reduce its support next year, and the year after that, etc. Taking that support for granted would ultimately be a disservice to our patrons and a dereliction of our duties as staff and trustees.

FAQ 3: Why doesn't the library just secure more grants and do more fundraising?

Grants and donations are great sources of supplemental income, but they aren't stable sources of funds any more than the town board's current contribution is. Grant monies are usually restricted - we can only spend them as specified in the grant, not as regular operating income. Donations from the community have grown steadily over the last few years, which we find very encouraging; it also underscores the need for us to maintain our services and develop our programming.

FAQ 4: Why doesn't the library charge for its services to cover its costs?

Private libraries like those found in universities, think tanks and other large institutions, charge handsomely for membership and services, and exist mostly to support the academic work of their members. Our mission is much more neighborly. We do not believe in restricting access to our services - our doors are open to all, not just those that can pay to come in. Nor do we wish to set trends among our neighbors in the Town offices. State and County support of towns is down: the Assessor could very well charge to hear your grievance, the Building Inspector for your building permit, and the Highway department to plow your road. Thankfully they don't, and we don't think they should. In short, we believe that free public libraries are a long-term benefit both to our town and our democracy.

FAQ 5: How much will this cost me?

We are proposing an annual budget of $110,000.00, to be funded from town property taxes. Our best estimate shows an annual taxpayer contribution of approximately $10.57 ($0.88 per month) for every $50,000.00 in assessed value. So if your assessment is $200,000.00, approximately $42.28 of the tax you pay Town of Clinton will go to the library.

FAQ 6: Our taxes go up every year - will the library tax go up every year too?

No. Any increase in funding must be passed by voters in a town-wide election.

FAQ 7: Why should I pay for the library when I don't even use it?

The easy answer - start using the library! Seriously, we aim to serve as many residents as possible and we would like you to become a patron and stay a patron. We encourage input from the community at large: our staff regularly takes suggestions and we have a public forum period at every board meeting. In addition, the Mid-Hudson Library System has a wealth of online resources available to all library card holders. The library is by its very nature a community resource, open to all - we're here for you.

FAQ 8: My taxes are too high already. I'm voting NO

We have no argument that property taxes are too high, we pay them too. But we hope you can reconsider your No position after taking a close look at your tax bills. The largest portion of your annual taxes by far goes to the schools, followed by the County levy. For many residents, town taxes account for less than ten percent of their overall property tax burden. The library's current funding amounts to a fraction of a percent of your total tax bill, and will remain a fraction of a percent with passage of this proposition. Furthermore, you can make the library your ally in the fight for tax reform. Libraries give residents ready access to the research support and materials needed for credible and effective advocacy.

FAQ 9: How will the money be spent?

Most of our budget goes towards operating costs and meeting our patrons' growing demands for current circulation materials (like new books and DVDs) and more diverse programming. A smaller portion will go towards increasing community outreach - regularly publishing a newsletter and hosting more special events. There are currently no plans for capital projects such as new construction, so we are confident that if the voters approve the proposition they will see quick returns on their investment.

FAQ 10: What will happen if this 414 vote fails?

As in past years, we will return to the Town Council with a petition for operational funding. And as in past years, the size of the town's appropriation will determine the extent of services the library can offer. The town board's generosity over the last few years has allowed us to increase hours, expand programming and grow our collection. We are working hard to maintain our current level of services, but if the vote fails we may have to reduce hours, programming and purchases, depending on the level of funding we receive from the Town.

FAQ 11: When and where will the vote take place?

Voting day is November 4, 2008. Voting will take place at Clinton Town Hall, The East Clinton Fire House and the West Clinton Fire House. The polls will be open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

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