NEWFANE – Residents of the Newfane Central School District are going to the polls Tuesday not only to vote on the proposed $33.9 million school budget for 2014-15 and to elect two of three candidates to the Board of Education, but also to consider converting Newfane Free Library into a public school district library.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Newfane Elementary School, 2909 Transit Road.
The move to a public school district library would stabilize the funding needed to operate the library and provide seven elected, rather than appointed, members to the library’s board of trustees, according to library officials.
They explained that if the measure is approved, the library budget would be completely independent of the school budget, but, by law, the school district determines the library’s service area and collects the library tax, which is turned over to the library.
Library officials said the cost would be 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for property owners, or $27 per year on a home assessed at $100,000.
The library’s trustees have held numerous one-on-one sessions at the library and made presentations to a number of local organizations about the upcoming vote.
Library Board President Janet Steggles said, “We are a very frugal board, and we have made do with reduced funding. We have cut programs and services, even though usage has doubled in the past 10 years.”
She added, “We have been encouraged by the positive comments we have received from those who believe that the library is important to the Newfane community.”
Library Director Kris DeGlopper-Banks echoed Steggles’ sentiments.
“Unfortunately, we’ve suffered many cutbacks in our funding sources over the years, and it’s been very hard to make ends meet,” DeGlopper-Banks said. “This would allow us to continue to provide services and be able to offer even more to the community. We’ve been operating with a budget deficit every year and have had to hold many fundraisers to make it up.”
“This would also give the taxpayers, the people who use the library, the opportunity to have a voice in making sure the library is funded,” she said.
DeGlopper-Banks said she has found some original documents outlining the formation of the library in 1911.
“They met on a cold January day and asked, ‘Do we need a library?’ and answered, ‘Yes,’ ” she said. “And here we are over 100 years later and, hopefully, the community will say ‘Yes’ again to support our library.”
Those interested in learning more may find slides from the presentation made at the Library Board’s March 25 public meeting and additional information about the upcoming vote at www.NewfaneLibrary.com or may call Steggles at 289-7539.