Community to Vote on Library Budget

Local author Carol Paterno holds a book reading at Pawling Library, one of the many types of programs that a budget increase would support.

While many things in Pawling have changed over the last nine years, the amount of money that the Pawling Library receives in tax support has not. Thanks to a petition signed by more than 600 Pawling residents, this fact, too, may be changing. Town Clerk Cathy Giordano has notified the library’s Board of Trustees that qualifications have been met to have an initiative voted on by the community on November 6. This Proposition 414 initiative seeks an increase in revenue from the municipality in which a library resides. “If passed,” explains Pawling Library Director Brian Avery, “the library will receive an additional $60,000 per year from Pawling taxpayers. We have run a budget deficit for as long as I have worked here, but receiving this additional money would put us back in the black.”

This increase to the budget will help to ensure that the library can maintain the development and growth of its programs, as well as meet other inflationary costs associated with operation. Last year the library offered 274 programs for young adults, 363 for adults, and 399 for children. In addition to offering these programs and the thousands of materials available for the public to borrow, the Pawling Library is a social and learning hub for all ages.

“The small proposed increase to the municipal budget is in line with cumulative inflation rates since 2009,” states Library Treasurer Nick Robertshaw. “What this means for each household is an additional $11.44 for each $100,000 of assessed home valuation.”

The increase will allow the library to meet the challenges associated with community demand for quality, varied programming, and events for all, and will also provide the funding to maintain both physical and digital materials, physical space, and computers that reflect Pawling’s current and future needs. The funds will also help the library keep pace with the costs of salaries and health care premiums.

The library director and program coordinators continuously seek grants to supplement programming and infrastructure needs. However, grant money should not be considered when determining operational needs because of the inconsistent nature of this source of revenue. Without a positive response from the community on election day, the library trustees, in coordination with the director, will be forced to bring spending in line with tax revenue that was approved in 2009, resulting in forced cutbacks to services, programming, and technology.

“Our library is an essential gathering place in our town, serving in many ways as a community center where people of all ages, interests, and backgrounds can come together to learn and grow,” says Board President Stephanie McLaughlin. “The Board of Trustees, along with the library’s staff, is eager to continue providing the same level of service to our patrons, and we cannot do that without an increase in the amount of money we receive from our taxpayers.”

The ballot initiative will appear on the back of the ballot, so voters will need to turn the ballot over in order to make their voices heard on this important issue. The Pawling Library Board of Trustees is hopeful that the community will approve this funding initiative so that the library may continue to meet community-wide expectations.

Information about the Pawling Library Proposition 414 may be found at online.