WATERTOWN — A proposition on the city school budget referendum to provide $75,000 annually to the Flower Memorial Library passed 2,622 to 906, according to figures provided by the Board of Education.
These funds, raised by the annual levy of a tax on district property owners, will be considered separate and apart from the annual school district budget. Any future modifications to the annual levy would require a new vote on the matter.
According to district Superintendent Patricia LaBarr, Flower Library officials approached the district last summer about the proposition. They were starting to explore the idea because they were looking to fill a void in funding.
Libraries can request funds from school district taxpayers by asking them to vote on a resolution that’s placed on the annual school district budget. And then taxpayers pay an amount for the library based on their assessed property value, just like they do for school taxes.
The money would be used for items like books and DVDs, according to Yvonne Reff, the library’s director.
“New York state education law allows us to put a proposition along with the school ballot so the school acts as the mechanism for the vote and the counting and all that; we’re one of the last libraries in the county to use this source of funding,” she said in May. “Over the last ten years, the city financial situation has gotten worse and worse. We have a little over a million dollar budget, but most of it goes to salaries and the building. So anytime there was a cut required because of the city budget, it happened to books and other items.”
At one point, according to Mrs. Reff, funding for books and other things went down to zero. After these last few recent budget discussions, $10,000 is set to be put back, but that also includes eBooks. The library will have to spend $8,000 of it to pay for the eBooks because they’re part of the North Country Library System, so the $2,000 left won’t go very far, which is why the library decided to go on the district’s ballot to cover the cost of additional materials.