LAKE LUZERNE — The Hadley-Luzerne Public Library wants to become its own district to increase financial support of the library through the collection of taxes from residents of the school district.
Library Director Courtney Keir told the Hadley-Luzerne school board on Tuesday about the proposal to create a school district library as a sustainable funding source.
The library has received about $42,000 annually from Lake Luzerne and $22,000 from Hadley.
The library has had very little increase in funding, only about $12,000 from the town of Hadley over the last 12 years, according to library officials.
Keir said the state Education Department has mandated that by 2020 every library have a strategic plan. The Hadley-Luzerne library plan has three goals: promote and host community events and programs; increase outreach to underserved individuals in the community; and promote the library as a center for learning. Keir said she particularly wants to promote childhood literacy.
Keir said the library needs an infusion of financial support, as costs have continued to rise.
“We’re struggling to keep where we are now,” she said.
Keir is the only full-time employee, along with two part-time library clerks. She wants to hire another person who would develop programs that cater to families and young children.
The library seeks a three-year budget of $190,000, according to Keir.
“We could survive within that operating budget for at least three years without having to go back for funding,” she said.
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Library officials have collected more than 60 signatures on a petition to form the district, according to , lawyer for the library. A total of 25 was needed.
The petition requires the school district to hold a referendum, which it has set for June 25 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Stuart M. Townsend Elementary School.
Attorney Robert Schofield said this is creating a governance structure for the taxpayers to fund the library.
If approved, the boundary of the library district would match the school district boundary, according to Keir. Voters will approve the annual budget, and the trustees and the library would have to follow civil service guidelines in hiring.
Board Vice President Mary Visscher asked how many people visit the library.
Keir said it averages about 700 per month in the off-season. In the summer, that doubles to 1,500 or more. They loan out about 1,200 books per month.
After the initial setup of the new structure of the library and initial budget, further increases to the budget and election of trustees would have to be decided upon by the voters. The school district’s only role would be collect the taxes and pass them along to the library.
Schofield said other libraries have successfully formed taxing districts for support. Long Lake had a library in a “lovely” building, but he said it was starting to falter. They got voter approval to incorporate as a school district library and now it is flourishing.
“The numbers (of visitors) are up. The circulation is up. The building is being used for community purposes it hasn’t been used for before,” he said.