Budget Issues: Should The Library Budget Get More Scrutiny?


Submitted a month ago
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norwichobserver

Library's requested appropriation is 21% higher

Everybody loves the Norwich Library! However, as the Selectboard tightens its belt regarding the Town budget, should residents ask the Library to do the same? The question may strike some as heresy, but Selectboard member Mary Layton is right to raise the matter, in light of the 21% increase in the requested appropriation.

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The Selectboard does not control the library's finances, as noted in Ms. Layton's memorandum in the Selectboard packet for December 12 (unnumbered page 124).  But the Town, by voter approved appropriation, make a substantial contribution to its operations. The memorandum says:
[T]he  Norwich Public Library appropriation is proportionally equivalent to 7.4% of the municipal budget. The appropriation request is for $283,000 for operating expenses plus $50,000 for capital expenses. The total is $333,000. If the rule of thumb is that each increment of $45,000 is equal to a 1% increase in taxes, then this request represents 7.4%. 
In the current fiscal year, the library's appropriation is $275,000, with no separate line item for capital expenses. That $275,000 adds about 3.6 cents to the municipal tax rate. The Library's total request of $333,000 is a 21% increase from this year.

The memorandum concludes: 
I am not suggesting a course of action by the Select Board. If the library were a municipal library with oversight by the Select Board, instead of an incorporated library, I would definitely ask for level funding or a reduction. This is not a reflection of the quality or services offered, but a perception of how the funding of town services are balanced against each other, and trying to be sensitive to those who find Norwich taxes very high and difficult to pay.
What say you? Please comment below. 
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POSTED: 12.11.2018 

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