POTSDAM — Voters in the Potsdam Public Library District will be asked to fill three trustee seats this fall, with one vacancy and two terms expiring. But what voters won’t see is the annual referendum asking for a budget increase.
Library Director Annie T. Davey said the decision to hold off on elections and to not seek a budget increase came when examining the circumstances of the local economy during the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trustees, when we talked about it at our meeting, they were talking about how a lot of people are out of work right now, a lot of people do not have their normal income, a lot of people are trying to survive on less and it seemed like just absolutely the wrong time to ask people to accept more of a tax increase, so we wanted to do our very small part and not request an increase,” Ms. Davey said. “Our first consideration is we are here for the community and we want to do what the community needs, and, at the moment, that seems like a top priority.”
Ms. Davey said the elections will be for two of the nine trustee seats, now filled by Kathy Love and Maureen Taylor, whose terms are expiring, and for a vacancy that was created in November when Erin Cheney, the board’s former president, stepped down. The current board president is Sandra McCloy.
“In September we are hoping to hold an in-person election at the library as we do every year, but it will only be for trustees and not about any kind of increased budget,” Ms. Davey said.
The proposed increase would have been in line with the last few years — only a few cents of a thousand dollars of taxable property value — but, she said, “just symbolically,” the library did not want to be involved in asking the taxpayers for more money amid the pandemic.
“The idea that if you don’t have financial security, if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you’re not thinking about, ‘oh, I should read some non-fiction books,” Ms. Davey said. “It’s beyond consideration if you are struggling to obtain the necessities of life and so that’s kind of the thinking behind not asking for money right now, because we are, as a community, focused on getting back to normal life, making sure we’re not sick, making sure that everyone’s jobs are intact. Those basic necessities are the focus of our community’s efforts right now and we’re not going anywhere either.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused communities to shut down, major renovations to the interior of the library were delayed, resulting in the library remaining closed despite the restart of the three-phase construction project scheduled to be completed in September.
“We are here now, and we will be here when everything reopens and be better than ever,” Ms. Davey said. “But at the moment, I think there is more focus, and I think appropriately so, on safety.”