On Tuesday, June 26, Guilderland residents vote on the 30 percent tax hike proposed by the Guilderland Library. It proposes a $13-million bond act to finance a massive library expansion. The bond for construction alone would be financed with a 26 percent jump in the library tax bills of residents and businesses. Additional yearly operating costs will push the tax increase to over 30 percent.
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Library mailings have not made this enormous cost clear to the publilc. Instead, a far more obscure cost per thousand of assessed value number has been presented. Just so there is no confusion, the library charges Guilderland taxpayers $1.08 per thousand for operating costs and it acknowledges 28 cents per thousand more will be needed to finance the bond debt. That’s a 26 percent hike to your bill.
That increase does not include future operational costs that will rise due to the library’s nearly 75 percent expansion. When asked, a library trustee conceded the expansion would require “some staffing up” but could not say what the overall cost increase would be. Even with conservative estimates, the tax hike is likely to exceed 30%.
With the increases, the library tax alone will rise to about $370 a year for the average Guilderland home.
The Guilderland Library now employs over 60 full and part-time people. By comparison, the Guilderland Police Department has 34 police officers and 11 dispatchers. According to library documents supplied in a Freedom of Information Request, personnel costs increased over 100 percent from 2002-2011 (from $1.1 million to $2.3 million). The $2.3 million is more than six times what the library spent on all of its collection materials and 14 times more on what it spent on building operation and maintenance.
The Guilderland Library does have a wide variety of consumers of its services and its champions are very motivated. But prudent spending should be part of the mix, especially when other government employees face pay freezes and taxpayers are feeling the pinch.
Vote on June 26th, Noon to 9 pm at your local elementary school.
If you wish to become involved or have any questions, be sure to let Mark Grimm know: firstname.lastname@example.org