Our budget is, in a word, complicated. We receive funding from the Village of Hamilton, the towns of Hamilton, Brookfield, Lebanon, and Madison, Madison County, New York State, private donors, and the Hamilton Central School District. While we can ask politely for an increase in funding from most of those sources, but only the School District tax levy provides us with the ability to increase our funding directly, all we have to do is ask the taxpayers for permission.
Normally, we ask for an increase in taxes at the highest amount allowable by the state, about 1-3%, depending on the year. Due to the financial strain the pandemic has taken on, well, everyone, we considered not increasing our tax levy at all this year (more on that in a minute). But we went with another solution: this year, we are asking for an increase, but only by 0.25%, which works out to be about $300. You may be asking “$300 per taxpayer?” That seems like a lot. Well, it’s $300 overall, all taxpayers combined. You may now be asking “why raise them at all then, isn’t that amount so insignificant as to not be worth the paperwork?” Well, the answer is both yes and no.
If we do not ask for an increase, the library simply receives the same amount of funding that it did in the previous fiscal year, and there is no vote. The Trustees elected to put a small increase in our budget simply to remain on the ballot, and remind our patrons that we’re out here. If we don’t appear one year, then our sudden appearance in the next year may cause some confusion.
Back to the matter at hand – remember when I said that the pandemic put a financial strain on, well, everyone? It did to us too. But luckily for us, we are able to use some funding set aside from bequests, and have received help from the Friends of the Library for things like program supplies, and we are not in as much financial stress as others in our situation. Can we afford to do this every year? Definitely not, but if we don’t use what little of our ‘rainy day’ funds we had during a global pandemic, what kind of a rainy day are we waiting for?
All confusion aside, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about this process. And please remember to vote “yes” on the ever-so-small increase to our tax levy in May. We appreciate your support!