MASSENA — The Massena Town Council has officially thrown its support behind the Massena Public Library’s plan to transition from a town-funded library to a school district public library.
Under that plan, the library would no longer be funded strictly by town of Massena taxpayers. Instead, the cost would be split by taxpayers in the towns of Massena, Louisville, Brasher and Norfolk who live within the Massena Central School District’s boundaries.
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.
“I’m committed to removing library funding from our town taxes,” council member Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said during Wednesday’s Massena Town Council meeting.
He said, since the library would no longer be funded by the town, taxpayers in the town of Massena would see savings, depending on their assessment. Based on 2020 town taxes, owners of property assessed at $100,000 would see a savings of $23.69, he said.
“In my opinion, I would agree to take the library funds that are collected for taxes off from the taxes for the town and let them collect their own. That would result in that savings for the taxpayers within the town of Massena,” Mr. Carbone said.
Council member Robert Elsner said it might be difficult to show taxpayers the savings. He said the budget might include increases like cost of living allowances, which meant they couldn’t guarantee a reduction in taxes.
“How do you demonstrate that you’re not re-proportioning that levy elsewhere?” he wondered.
“Obviously there could be a 2 percent increase on the taxes that reflect without including the library. But if the library was still there, they would still also have that increase as well,” Mr. Carbone said.
“As we go year to year in budget preparation, you can almost guarantee the library budget is not going to go down. You’re funding well over $600,000 now. What’s it going to be next year, what’s it going to be the year after and so on?” Deputy Supervisor Albert Nicola said.
Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said it was his intent to save town of Massena taxpayers money.
“The whole idea is that we’re giving the other communities the opportunity to help support the library. It would result in a tax savings for the town of Massena. I want to save the taxpayers money,” he said.
Mr. Elsner said he believed taxpayers would understand that the town of Massena was no longer going to solely provide funds to the library.
“There should be a commitment of those who use the library to support the library. I think that’s a valid argument for this change,” he said.
A vote to determine the library’s future will be held from noon to 8 p.m. June 16 at the library.
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.