... so I won't have to pay for it any more!
That is because I live in part of the Town of New Hartford that is not in the New Hartford School District. If voters approve rechartering the NH Library from a town to a school district library, only the taxpayers in the New Hartford Central School District will be taxed to support the library . . .
And, apparently, what a tax it will be!
The library budget is proposed to increase 67% to $893,675! And from the tone of the recently published statements of some of the incumbent trustees who are running to be elected to the new library board, further increases are to be expected to serve the increased demands of library "patrons."
But who are the "patrons" who are making such demands?
Since this is "New Hartford," it is likely that the current board of trustees reflects the makeup of the "patrons," i.e., they are
fairly well-heeled persons who have the means to access
information independently on their own dime without having to tap fellow taxpayers to pay for
it. As with any library, in all likelihood the "patrons" are an insignificant percentage of the population that is being asked to pay for the facility. Most taxpayers will seldom, if ever, actually use the library. Given the library's physical location on the edge of New Hartford
Village, it would appear that most patrons drive to the library
rather than walk to it. This begs the question:
If most patrons drive to the NH library, why not drive to -- and fund -- the Utica Public Library instead?
Libraries are important for giving the disadvantaged of a community regular access to information that the non-disadvantaged can obtain by other means. That gives the disadvantaged an opportunity to elevate their status through education -- which benefits the entire community. But how may disadvantaged people reside in the New Hartford School District -- and also have a car to be able to use the NH Library?
Libraries are also important for giving the non-disadvantaged occasional access
to hard-to-find information that they might not ordinarily be able to
obtain. How much of such information could or should a school district of only 2600 students be expected to accumulate?
The Utica Public Library is only a few miles from the New Hartford Library. It may actually be more convenient to some parts of the NH School District than the current Town Library.
The Utica Public Library is the region's public library. It is the one that is located closest to the region's disadvantaged who need it the most. It is also the most centrally located to the region's population who need the library for occasional use. It's collection is already fairly large and it is professionally staffed. But through urban sprawl the population the Utica Public Library still serves no longer contributes to its maintenance.
I believe that the hearts of the library trustees pushing this rechartering are in the right place -- but their execution is wrong. The region can afford only one regional library. If the trustees are serious about improving the community, they will explore ways to improve and fund the Utica library, and not continue with something that competes with it. If the region could pool its resources in Utica, just think of what a great library we all could have.
In the meantime, I selfishly hope that voters approve rechartering the New Hartford Library as a School District Library so I no longer have to pay for something that does me and my community little good.
More information about this proposal, including a lot of statistics, is available on New Hartford Online.