The Barker Free Library is seeking a new way to stabilize its finances in uncertain budget times.
The library wants funding from school taxes rather than yearly budget appropriations, which are more uncertain year to year.
Library leaders have completed a petition drive to force a vote on the issue during school budget time next year.
Without the more stable funding stream, the library will have to deplete its dwindling reserve fund and reduce services, officials say.
“There would be reductions for some of our [programs] because we can’t afford to go the way we are,” said Roy Anderson president of the library board.
A “yes” vote during the May budget vote would designate the library as an official “school district public library.”
The label doesn’t mean students will be flocking to the library, and the district would actually have no direct control over the library’s operations.
But taxpayers who cast their vote next year on the Barker school budget would also vote on a funding proposal for the library.
“With community-based funding, we will be able to ensure that our library continues to provide everyone the opportunity for lifelong learning and public access to the latest technologies,” Anderson said.
The move is an attempt to stabilize the library’s finances at a time when towns and villages are confronting worsening budget problems, officials said.
Library officials recently presented the plan to the School Board, which will not actually decide the issue on its merits.
The board instead is charged only with setting a date for a vote on the issue.
“It’s not a contentious [issue],” School Superintendent Roger J. Klatt said. “We just are trying to make sure the procedural details are being followed.”
Library officials said the change also complies with a State Board of Regents policy urging libraries to shift tax support from municipal general funds to direct public votes.
The school district would collect tax money for the library and turn the funds over to the library board, officials said.
Library leaders say enrollment at the branch has tripled since 2005 to nearly 1,000 members.
“We find that as the economy is bad, library users have gone up, because it’s a great, reasonable place to get entertained,” Anderson said.
A vote on the measure is likely to take place during the May school budget vote or around that time, Klatt said. The board will likely determine a final date next month.
More information will be posted online at www.barkerfreelibrary.com, and officials plan a series of public meetings before votes are cast.