Saratoga County

Round Lake Library fate left to voters

Voters will decide whether the Round Lake Library — which serves the entire town of Malta — should g

Voters will decide whether the Round Lake Library — which serves the entire town of Malta — should get $291,000 in funding from the town next year.

The Town Board is expected to vote today to authorize a public referendum, after library supporters this summer circulated petitions and obtained more than 800 signatures.

“The county Board of Elections wants a referral from the Town Board, so that’s what will happen,” said Town Supervisor Paul Sausville.

The board will also set a public hearing for Nov. 9 on setting a library tax levy, assuming the referendum passes in the Nov. 8 election.

“I’ll follow the wishes of the voters,” Sausville said.

The Women’s Round Lake Improvement Society, which operates the main library in Round Lake and a branch at the Malta Community Center, is seeking to pass the referendum as a way of stabilizing its funding, rather than having to renegotiate municipal funding contracts every year.

Library Board President Sandra J. Debus said the $291,000 is the same amount the library received from the town of Malta and village of Round Lake this year, through negotiations that have sometimes been stressful.

Under state education law, if voters approve the referendum, the town funding would then be set at the same level in future years, unless another referendum were held to change the amount.

Library officials said demand for library services has grown steadily as the town has grown, and especially since the Community Center branch opened in 2009.

“We’re circulating about 11,000 items a month now. We had circulation of about 3,000 a month before,” Debus said.

Town officials have estimated the $291,000, if collected from property taxes, would require a tax of 16 cents per $1,000 assessed value, for a property tax bill of about $40 on a house assessed at $250,000. A higher number appeared in a recent town newsletter, but Sausville acknowledged it was incorrect.

According to the town, current funding for the library is coming through the town’s sales tax revenues. The library board has negotiated its funding level each year with the Town Board; the referendum would have voters set the amount of funding, without saying whether the money would come from sales tax, property tax, or other revenue sources.

“One of the reasons this went forward is the [Town] Board told us we have to find another way of financing,” Debus said.

She said there will be an active effort by library supporters to get the referendum passed. “We have a brochure due out in early October. We anticipate signs, and we may do some calling,” Debus said. “We have to educate the public.”

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