Li­brary seeks 72% fund­ing in­crease

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jay Bra­man Jr. news@free­manon­line.com More in­for­ma­tion about the li­brary’s bud­get can be found ay www. phoeni­cial­i­brary.org.

Vot­ers will be asked Tues­day whether the town should in­crease fund­ing to the Phoenicia Li­brary by 72 per­cent.

The propo­si­tion, ap­pear­ing on the back of bal­lots at Shandaken polling places, will read: “Shall the town of Shandaken in­crease its an­nual con­tri­bu­tion for the oper­at­ing bud­get of the Phoenicia Li­brary by $68,000 to the sum of $162,000 an­nu­ally?”

The li­brary has a cur­rent an­nual bud­get of $177,000. Since 2011, Shandaken, by way of its tax­pay­ers, has con­trib­uted $94,000 of that to­tal. The rest is made up of do­na­tions, grants and state aid, all of which have been dwin­dling.

If the spend­ing propo­si­tion is ap­proved, the town will be cov­er­ing about 90 per­cent of the li­brary’s spend­ing. The other 10 per­cent would have to come through fundrais­ing.

The pro­posed in­crease would cost, on av­er­age, $14 per house­hold per year, li­brary of­fi­cials have said. The av­er­age Shandaken house­hold cur­rently pays about $20 per year to­ward the li­brary bud­get.

Li­brar­ian El­iz­a­beth Pot­ter has said use of the Phoenicia fa­cil­ity, which re­opened on Main Street last year fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing fire in 2011, is grow­ing.

“The nutshell is we are get­ting dou­ble- and tripledigit in­creases in use of li­brary ser­vices by the pub­lic,” she said ear­lier this year. “De­mand has long ago out­stripped our bud­get. The last in­crease we had to our bud­get was five years ago.”

The li­brary now of­fers, on av­er­age, 33 pro­grams per month, where be­fore it had less than one-third of that num­ber, ac­cord­ing to Porter. To re­spond to the pop­u­lar­ity of the new pro­grams, a part-time pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor was hired, and, she said, the added pro­grams also come with a cost for ma­te­ri­als, equip­ment, per­form­ers, in­creased plan­ning time and com­mu­nity out­reach.

“The li­brary board had no choice but to present the real cost of how our com­mu­nity is now us­ing the Phoenicia Li­brary,” Pot­ter said in Au­gust. “The other op­tion for the board was to sim­ply be­gin cut­ting pro­grams and ... hours. This would have been in di­rect con­tra­dic­tion to what the 2015 town­wide sur­vey and fo­cus groups were ask­ing the li­brary to do. The over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus was town res­i­dents love what the li­brary is do­ing and say they want more of it.”

FILE PHOTO BY TONY ADAMIS

The Phoenicia Li­brary, on Main Street in the ham­let, was re­built after a dev­as­tat­ing fire in 2011.

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