MASSENA — Massena Public Library officials are expected to attend the next Massena Central School Board of Education meeting on March 19 as part of the process to form a school district public library.
They’ll be requesting that a proposition be placed on the ballot for the creation of the school district public library, with the vote scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. June 16 at the library.
Under Education Law 259, the school district is required to facilitate the voting process. Library officials would present the school board with petitions to create the library and to nominate trustees who would serve on the library’s board. The proposition specifies the budget and initial board members.
The library’s 2020 budget is $683,750, with the town of Massena providing $607,430, the library’s fund balance covering $30,000, library charges covering $17,000, grants and donations covering $15,500, property rental bringing in $4,800, and the town of Louisville providing $9,000 a year.
Under the proposal to become a public school district library, officials are asking for an initial budget of $700,000. If they needed to raise that in the future, they would need approval from voters.
Voters over age 18 who live within the school district’s boundaries, which includes Massena, Louisville and portions of Brasher and Norfolk, are eligible to cast their ballots. Residents of the four towns are among 9,639 patrons that were registered at the library in 2019.
If the proposition is approved by voters, the old library will be dissolved by submitting paperwork to the Board of Regents, and its assets will be transferred to the new entity. The school district will collect the tax money and turn the funds over to the new library board, which will govern the new entity. The library, however, will be independent of the school district, as well as the town of Massena.
School district taxpayers will pay an amount based on their assessed property value, just like they do for school taxes.
Currently, town of Massena residents with property assessed at $50,000 contribute $241 a year to the library’s operation as part of their town tax bill. The Massena Town Council has said it will remove library funding if the proposition passes, and that residents would see a $62 savings if a school district public library was formed under the current formula.
If voters approve the school district public library, the cost will be spread out between property owners in the towns of Massena and Louisville and portions of the towns of Brasher and Louisville.
Under that scenario, and with the current equalization rates, a town of Massena resident with property assessed at $50,000 would contribute $44 a year. In Brasher, the owner of property assessed at $50,000 would contribute $55 a year toward the library’s operation, while those with a $50,000 assessment would contribute $51 a year in Louisville and $54 a year in Norfolk. Library Director Elaine Dunne has given presentations about the proposal around Massena, Brasher, Louisville and Norfolk. She’ll hold another presentation of “Creating Stable and Sustainable Funding at the Library —The District Initiative” at 6:30 p.m. March 31 in the library’s Viewing Room. During the presentation, she’ll go into greater detail about the proposal and how it will impact taxpayers.