Thursday, December 1, 2011

Funny you should say that, Mary...

At the November 29, 2011 Library Board of Trustees meeting, Trustee, Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr. pointed out that the trustees need to be mindful of the 2% tax cap as it does apply to libraries.

Trustee Mary DuRoss interrupted and said that she was told that the libraries no longer were held to the 2% tax cap and another trustee agreed with Ms. DuRoss. Trustee Wiatr then asked to see the documentation that Ms. DuRoss was relying on and he was told to get the information for himself.

Here is Ms. DuRoss in her own words [about a minute and a half runtime]:


Well...as luck would have it, we received an email just yesterday from the Empire Center for New York State Policy and it contained a link to "New York State's Property Tax Cap: A Citizen's Guide".

According to that guide:
The cap applies to all counties, cities, towns and villages outside New York City, and to all fiscally independent school districts. It also applies to the property tax levies of special districts established to finance fire departments, libraries [emphasis added], sewer and water systems and other purposes.
While the tax cap does not apply to the library now because it is part of the town's budget and the tax cap is the town's responsibility, it would apply to them if they become a school district library.

Incidentally, this article is dated November 30, 2011, the day AFTER the Library Board of Trustees meeting, so one would have to suspect that the library trustees can believe it to be current and in effect. Looks like Mary's sources were incorrect. Perhaps trustees should be more careful before they speak rather than to just speak out against things they don't want to hear and board members they would rather not hear from!

What does the tax cap mean to the library? It will force them to make a tough decision. Do they low-ball their first budget request so that taxpayers will pass their referendum? Might not be the prudent thing to do knowing that they are forced to a 2% tax cap in future budgets. They would need a simple majority vote of the trustees to override the tax cap. The publicity from an override vote of the board, depending on how much the library tax would increase, might make voters reject future budgets and then by law they would be forced to adhere to that first budget that they low-balled.

OR...

do they ask for what they REALLY think they need hoping that voters agree that the library is worth spending their tax dollars on? This year's budget is set for $596,200..... and that budget appears to be a deficit budget if you look at where they think they can get revenue. More on this soon.

Keep in mind, this is not the budget that they will be presenting to the taxpayers in May 2012, they have yet to present that budget to the Library Trustees or the public; however, they have said that the budget that is presented for the taxpayers to vote on will include sufficient monies so that they can be open on Wednesdays, a day that they are now closed.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...but ignoring the facts or "tuning out" some of their trustees is not the way to go.

By the way, Trustee Wiatr, a member of the Library Finance Committee was given a handwritten note from Library Trustee and Treasurer Earl Cunningham on November 23, 2011. According to Cunningham [and this is a direct quote]:
"Ed,

Hans Plambeck and I have prepared the proposed budget for 2012. Enclosed is a copy for your advance review--I plan on giving it to the Library Board at our next meeting.

I do not intend to have a Finance Committee meeting since you are the only other member of the committee and I assume that you will not be in favor of this proposed budget and will want to submit your own proposed budget."
Actually, since Mr. Wiatr was named to the Finance Committee over a year ago, he has never been invited to a meeting of that committee. In fact, Mr. Wiatr has repeatedly asked for financial information and has even resorted to FOILing the information, but little is forthcoming. Ms. Romano at the end of the above video says that there is absolutely no issue with giving Trustee Wiatr the information he asks for? Really?

Who is keeping an eye on the financial status of the library if the Finance Committee never meets...who sees to it that your tax dollars are being wisely spent. Is the Finance Committee meeting behind closed doors in defiance of the Open Meetings Law...doors that are even closed to their own Library Trustee who is a member of that committee? As taxpayers, this is upsetting to say the least.

In May 2012, this library will be asking taxpayers of the New Hartford Central School District to vote on re-chartering to become a school district library; to vote on the trustees who will be making future decisions regarding the library; and to vote on the budget that your 2012-2013 school library taxes will be based on and yet their books are closed even to a member of their board who asks questions that ALL board members should be asking.

We will have more on the vote to re-charter soon. However, at that meeting one of the trustees asked Mr. Wiatr...Are you going to sabotage the efforts of this board to re-charter? From where we sit, Mr. Wiatr doesn't need to sabotage their efforts...they are doing a fine job all by themselves!

2 comments:

Strikeslip said...

Actually I hope that the NH Library does recharter. If this video is a sample, the campaigns of these people for public office will be better entertainment than anything on TV!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the OD will see this and rewrite Carol's blog as there own and it will get more attention....Saw today's OD keep up the good work...Since the new crowd at the library has taken over they seem to be working on there own agenda..After all what would us common folk know about them there library's..Nice work Carol