Library seeks 72% funding increase
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.”
The Phoenicia Library, on Main Street in the hamlet, was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2011.