Tired of being a political football, the Lewiston Library is asking residents to take it out of the game.
Residents will vote Tuesday on establishing a district library. Seven trustees also will be elected to five-year board terms in the balloting from noon to 9 p.m. in the library at 305 S. Eighth St.
If voters approve the district library plan, the library no longer would have to request funding from the town or village boards, where the issue has been contentious for three years.
As a district library, it would rely directly on a special district tax paid by all village and most town residents.
The town had been paying 100 percent of the library's budget. But, faced with the choice of raising taxes or cutting services, it asked the village to contribute 40 percent of the funds.
Village Mayor Richard F. Soluri declined, noting the village had donated the land for the library and provides such services as grass cutting and sidewalk plowing.
Lisa Seivert, library director, said the district library plan would remove the library from the argument and provide more stable funding.
She also noted that, as local funding has decreased -- forcing cuts in hours, staff and new materials -- circulation decreased. As a result, county and state funding -- formulated on the basis of circulation, new materials and local contributions -- also decreased.
Robert M. Presutti, Library Board president, said the cuts had deprived the library of 50 percent of its overall funding in the last three years.
The only answer, he said, was to free the library's funding source from "the politically and often capricious motivated actions of the town and to seek funding directly from the people whose library it is."
If the new district library is approved, taxpayers with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay $57 per year. This would raise $350,000 of the total $392,942 budget for next year.
Other revenue would come from fines, fees, Niagara County, the state and gifts and endowments. The village and town would pay nothing. The Town of Niagara, which has no town library and whose residents use the Lewiston Library, is not part of the special district, so the town would continue to contribute $900 per year.
If approved, the library would be open for seven additional hours -- a total of 47 -- each week and restore two part-time page positions.
The town and village now appoint Library Board members. Under a district library, trustees are elected. Fourteen individuals are seeking seven seats, including incumbents Presutti, Teresa Sharp Donaldson, Nancy K. Smith and Gretchen R. Denk.
Also seeking seats are two Town Board members, D. James Langlois and Daniel Kilmer, and James F. Mudd, Frank Collins, Robert A. Linn, David B. Baird, Michael H. Shaw, Alonza Jackson-McCabe, Craig W. Drachenberg and Harrison L. Coppock.