Representatives of the Massena Public Library believe they would fare better financially if they became an independent taxing body.
The library is now under the auspices of the town of Massena. Most of its funding comes from the Town Board. It also receives money from a tax bill sent to Louisville residents.
Library officials are pursuing a plan to become a school district public library. This would make the library an autonomous government entity with the authority to levy its own taxes.
Members of the Library Board are appointed by the Massena Town Board. If the library changed its status, voters would select Library Board members. Officials said that becoming its own taxing body would allow the library to spread its financial obligations to all users rather than those just from Massena.
“The main reason the Library Board has decided that we should be going in this direction is to maintain stability and growth in the library,” library Director Elaine Dunne said in a story published July 22 in the Watertown Daily Times. “We’re still recovering from budget cuts. Our budget is equivalent to what it was eight years ago. Something has to be done to maintain current services.”
Ms. Dunne said that people throughout the School District use the library, but many do not pay anything for it. Converting to an independent taxing body would make it a more equitable process, she said.
The position that library officials have taken on this is understandable. Like those who represent other public bodies, they’ve had to stretch their limited resources.
However, the library needs to exhaust its available options first. Officials should demonstrate to Town Board members that the money they’ve been allocating is not enough.
Town Board members have to consider increasing this part of their budget. They also should approach other communities in the School District about applying a library tax bill just as is done in Louisville.
This would spread the responsibility of funding the library to more people who use its services. We believe this would be a better option than creating yet another taxing body in a state with too many already.