The Pine Plains Free Library has created the following Frequently Asked Questions document to provide information to Town voters who will be able to vote on the Library’s funding request at the next general election.
We are having an information session on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 10 AM in the Library Community Center. Please join us for a discussion and to ask any questions!
*September 14, 2023 Update: After reviewing the final 2023 tax assessments, calculations were adjusted to provide a more accurate cost calculation for the taxpayer’s impact. You can see these updated figures on the question “How much is the Library requesting? How much does it cost me?”
For any questions, please reach out to email@example.com or call the Library at (518) 398-1927 where the staff will help direct your question to a Board member.
A Chapter 414 vote (“414 vote”) refers to an amendment to NYS Education Law 259 passed in 1995 which allowed libraries to ask voters for specific public funding on general election day. The goal of Chapter 414 was to rectify and further prevent the underfunding of public libraries by allowing the taxpayers the power to determine the amount of money the town provides to their library.
The Library’s current funding consists of a variety of inconsistent resources. Presently, there is a large financial gap that leaves the Library at risk. A successful 414 vote will ensure secure, sustainable funding so the Library can continue providing quality services to meet the demands of the Pine Plains community.
Of the 19 libraries in Dutchess County, the Pine Plains Library is one of the last libraries to not utilize a budget vote! Our neighboring libraries including Stanfordville Library, NorthEast Millerton Library, Clinton Library, and Amenia Library use budget votes to fund their libraries.
In short, despite a large increase in usage, Library funding has stagnated. There have been occasional increases in funding over the last decade, but they have not kept up with the rise in usage, and inflation that has impacted costs for materials (such as books and supplies), digital content, programmers, and even minimum wage. The Library’s current allocation from the Town is $99,500 per year. Adjusting for inflation, that is less than the library’s allocation in 2013. In comparison, Library usage and demand has increased by over 120%! Without the ability to fund these services, the Library will not be able to continue the level of quality services the community deserves.
The Library Board of Trustees is proposing an annual contribution of $166,900. Based on the 2022 assessment roll, the current taxpayer contribution is $20.19 annually per $100,000 of property assessed. For the proposed budget in 2024 at $166,900 based on the 2023 assessments, that contribution would increase by $11.35 annually to a total of $31.54 annually. For the average household in Pine Plains (which means a home assessed at $315,000), the Library will cost $8.28 per month, a $2.98 increase.
In addition to maintaining current Library services, the money will be spent meeting the growing demand and usage of Pine Plains Library users. In the last 10 years, the Library has seen an average increase in usage of over 20% annually. In 2022, the Library saw a 29% increase from 2021!
No. The Library Board of Trustees has carefully established this budget with the belief that it will not need to be increased for at least three years, with hopes to maintain it longer. When the Library Board of Trustees determines a budget change is warranted, the Board would again request a vote on the ballot that year, and Pine Plains voters would have the chance to consider that increase as well.
Excellent question! Even if you don’t utilize the Library personally, the Library benefits other community members and organizations all around you! Libraries are often the first community safety net for people who find themselves in need of help with technology access, social services, digital equity, and literacy. Many community groups also rely on the Library to further enrich their services, such as Pine Plains Summer Camp.
The Library utilizes its 501(c)(3) tax-free status to explore all possible sources of funding to reduce taxpayers burden. In 2022, the Library received $68,993 in grants, fundraisers, and donations. Of which, $55,445 was grants. We are grateful for these funds, however, year-to-year these funds fluctuate as they are highly competitive and often restrictive. This makes them hard to depend on consistently for the Library to stay open. In 2023, the Library has applied for the same amount of grants, but so far, has only been approved to receive $15,000.
If the 414 does not pass, the Library Board will continue negotiations with the Town Board for increased funding. If an increase is not given, the Library Board will have to plan for a reduction of services to conserve funding so the Library can remain open. This plan likely includes the library reducing operation to four days per week with additional cuts to material content, programs, literacy offerings, and services. Even with these cuts, the Library Board estimates that without an increase in the next few years, the Library may not have the funds to meet New York state’s minimum standards, which could result in the Library closing.
The Library’s budget will appear on the back of the general election ballot as a simple “yes” or “no” question on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Early voting begins October 28th. All registered Pine Plains voters can vote at their regular polling stations.