Red Hook, Tivoli libraries request $125,000 more from taxpayers

Red Hook and Tivoli libraries will each be asking voters to approve a significant increase in funding, for a combined increase of $125,000.

Both libraries currently receive $25,000 each from taxpayers each year. Tivoli is asking for an increase of $55,000, up to $80,000 and Red Hook for an increase of $70,000 up to $95,000.

The vote, called a “Chapter 259” referendum, will appear on ballots as two separate propositions, one for each library, at the school district election to be held on May 20.

The additional cost per year, if both propositions are approved, is estimated to be $9 for Red Hook and $7.27 for Tivoli for a property assessed at $200,000.

“We’ve more than tripled attendance at our programs for adults and children and more than doubled our circulation in the past couple of years,” Red Hook Library Director Erica Freudenberger said in a news release.

She pointed to reductions in county and state funding as part of the reason the library now needs an increase from local taxpayers.

“We’re doing our best to meet demand, but our resources and services have been stretched to their limit,” she added.

The library would use the funding for services, materials, operations and technology costs and to maintain its mid-19th-century octagonal building, the release said.

Red Hook library’s overall budget is $269,000, of which $250,000, 93 percent, is funded by taxpayers. The remaining $19,000 comes from fines, fees, grants and donations.

The library last asked voters to approve an increase of $80,000 in 2011, collected through the town. Currently, $225,000 is collected through the Town of Red Hook and another $25,000 from the school district. The latter amount would be increased to $95,000, a 28 percent increase in the tax levy, if the proposal before voters is approved. The increase would grow the library’s budget 19 percent.

For the Tivoli Free Library, the increase would also go to meet increased demand.

“We’ve seen huge growth in library use, particularly since the economic downturn in 2008,” said Library Director Bonny Corrado in a news release, noting that children’s reading programs and use of the computers are big draws.

Currently, $150,000 in taxpayer funding makes up 77 percent of Tivoli’s overall budget of $196,000.

The last funding increase approved by taxpayers for the Tivoli Library was in 2007 for $125,000 annually, collected through the Town of Red Hook. Another $25,000 is collected through the school district; that would increase to $80,000 if taxpayers approve it May 20. The total collected, between the town and the school district, would then be $205,000.

Felicia Keesing, president of the Tivoli library’s board of trustees, told the Observer that if this funding proposal is approved, the library should be able to sustain its budget with an estimated growth of 2 percent each year for the next five years without asking for more funds.

Besides supporting programming, the funding would be used to replace outdated computer equipment and to allow the library to stay open in the early evening, one of the most popular times for patrons.

The Tivoli Free Library will host an informational meeting on the proposed increase, which will include a question-and-answer session with its Board of Trustees, on May 12 at 7pm. The Red Hook Library will host an informational session on May 17 at 11am.

Polls will be open at Mill Road 3-5 gym from 12 noon to 9pm, Tues., May 20

This story was updated to correct an error in the increase amount the Red Hook Library is requesting, it is $70,000, not $65,000.

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