How much is a library worth to you? To your kids? To your community at large?
For users of the Amsterdam Free Library living in the Broadalbin-Perth school district, the answer is probably worth more than $1.56 a year.
But that’s all voters in the school district will be asked to contribute annually under a referendum designed to raise money for the struggling library.
Proposition Four on the May 16 school district ballot asks residents of the district to approve a $10,000-a-year tax to support the library, which despite being in Amsterdam is used by hundreds of residents of the school district, as evidenced by library card issuance.
Right now, residents of the district are getting all the services provided by the library for free.
That includes not only the lending of books and audio/visual materials, but also the use of the library’s Wi-Fi, computers, meeting rooms, services such as computer classes and instruction, film festivals, arts-and-culture events, and numerous library programs for preschoolers, grade-school students and adults, summer reading programs, book clubs, genealogy classes, an environmental study team for high school students, and many others.
In addition, because the Amsterdam Free Library is part of the eight-county Mohawk Valley Library System, residents will have access to materials at 14 libraries across the region, including Schenectady’s main library.
While the proposal is included on Tuesday’s school budget ballot, voters should not be confused that this is related their school taxes. It’s not.
State law mandates that library funding propositions must be placed on the school ballot if the library makes such a request. The district will collect the money through school tax bills and channel it to the library.
If approved, each parcel in the district would be taxed about $1.56 a year, which works out to about 13 cents a month per parcel, or less than 10 cents a month for each of the 11,500 school district residents. That’s a firm dollar amount: $1.56. A buck-and-a-half.
The tax proposal is similar to, but far less than, the $200,000 contribution voters in the Amsterdam school district authorized for the library last year.
Amsterdam residents are paying the lion’s share of the library’s $300,000 budget. The library is asking only that users in nearby Broadalbin and Perth pitch in a small amount for the services and programs that they use.
As more residents of Broadalbin and Perth become aware of the library through the tax, they might be more encouraged to use the library for themselves and their children.
This is a fair request for a modest but vital donation to a valuable community resource.
It’s a contribution that voters in the Broadalbin-Perth school district should be willing to make. Vote yes on Proposition Four.