Towns hire attorney for Massena library proposal

The towns of Louisville, Norfolk and Brasher have retained an attorney as they hope to keep their residents from absorbing what they say will be a large tax increase for their residents if the Massena Public Library becomes a school district library. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The towns of Louisville, Norfolk and Brasher have retained an attorney as they hope to keep their residents from absorbing what they say will be a large tax increase for their residents if the Massena Public Library becomes a school district library.

Louisville Supervisor Larry Legault said they joined with Norfolk Supervisor Charles Pernice and Brasher Supervisor Mark A. Peets in hiring an attorney.

“The three towns that are affected by this new tax have been talking and working together on what we can do for the people of our towns,” he said. “The three towns went in and hired a lawyer to investigate the process that this is going through and, if it does pass, I’m sure we’re going to try to do what we can to see if it was legally done correct and if there was any way that maybe the vote could be overturned.”

“The towns of Norfolk, Louisville and Brasher have retained a law firm to monitor this process and will take action at the first opportunity; however, it is up to the voters to ultimately defeat this proposition. The last thing this struggling North Country economy needs is a new taxing entity and any new taxes! Just vote no to any new tax!” Mr. Pernice said in a letter to residents.

Under the proposition that is on the ballot for the June 9 election, library officials are asking the public to let them transition from a municipal library funded by town of Massena taxpayers to a school district library. That would spread the tax to residents in the towns of Massena and Louisville and portions of Brasher and Norfolk.

Town officials, however, have urged their residents to vote no, citing the increase in taxes the change would bring.

“This proposition will be for a new taxing entity and will be, if passed, a brand new tax added to your school tax bill. If this proposition passes, a home assessed at $50,000 will have to pay an additional $54 and a home assessed at $100,000 will have to pay an additional $109 to fund the Massena Public Library,” Mr. Pernice said.

Officials in Brasher and Louisville shared similar sentiments. Mr. Legault said, in the case of Louisville residents, their taxes would increase 17 times what they currently pay. The town currently pays an annual $9,000 contribution to the library.

“There was a referendum eight years ago to pay $9,000 to the library as a line item. That line item is going to go to $164,000 if it passes,” Mr. Legault said.

He said a person with a home assessed at $58,600 currently pays $3.40 in a library tax. If the vote passes, Mr. Legault said that will increase to $58.60. A home assessed at $125,000 currently has a library tax bill of $7.26, and he said that will increase to $125.

“That’s a big concern for a lot of residents and taxpayers in the town of Louisville,” he said.

Mr. Pernice said Norfolk residents already pay for a library in the town.

“Currently, all Norfolk residents pay taxes to fund the Norfolk Hepburn Library. The Norfolk Library has a budget of $110,000 for employees and all expenses for the building. In comparison, the Massena Library is asking for $700,000 on the ballot you will be receiving,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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