OSCEOLA — For the first time since the library began in 1955, the Osceola Public Library will be primarily funded by the town taxpayers.
Proposition 1 on the town’s ballot asked voters to say yes or no to an “annual contribution of the town of Osceola to the Osceola Public Library be set at $7,500 annually for the provision of library service.”
Although the unofficial results of the vote show the measure narrowly passed, 64 yes votes to 52 no, there are only 10 absentee votes possible, which is not enough to change the result after the final count.
“The way we’ve operated since 1955 when the library was first started, is not sustainable,” said library Director Leona Chershnoski, “While this $7,500 wouldn’t do much for a big library, like Flower Memorial in Watertown, it will make a big, big difference here. For us, it’s everything.”
Earlier in the year, Mrs. Chershnoski had written a letter to the town’s Board of Trustees explaining why the funding jump from the $2,187 supplied by the town in 2018 to the $7,500 was necessary.
In addition to state mandates to automate their system, the ongoing incremental minimum wage increases and building repairs that will be needed soon, Mrs. Chershnoski expressed concern about the rapidly disappearing balance of the endowment fund used to make up the budget shortfall every year, although the fund had been set aside to cover unforeseen expenses.
Additionally, she told the board that without a sustainable funding stream, the library will not be approved to be fully chartered. It has been operated under a provisional charter for a number of years, she said.
In 2018, the library had 706 visitors, according to information provided by Mrs. Chershnoski, including the 117 people that participated in 25 programs held throughout the year, and over 860 materials were borrowed, including books and DVDs.
The $8,057 in income from local, state and federal sources as well as donations, fundraising and grants, was not enough to cover the $10,706 in expenses for the year.
Mrs. Chershnoski said that while the voter-approved increase won’t affect the town’s tax cap, property owners will see an $11 increase to $94 on a $75,000 assessment next year.