Taxpayer Issues Shaping Up for May Vote

Butterfield Library proposition on the agenda

By Pamela Doan

Two school budgets and a proposal for funding for the Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library will be facing Philipstown taxpayer approval in May. At the Haldane Central School District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, March 10, board members heard from Library Director Gillian Thorpe, herself a former School Board president, and from Superintendent Diana Bowers and Business Manager Anne Dinio about all the financial items that will be brought before voters.

The library-funding presentation only specified that the school district’s attorney and the library’s attorney agree that the library has a legal right under state law to place a proposition on the district’s ballot during the budget referendum. Thorpe didn’t specify what the proposition would entail. The proposition is entirely separate from the school budget and does not impact the property tax rebate. The library needs to present petitions with 25 signatures of eligible voters to be on the ballot, and they will do so at the March 17 meeting.

Butterfield library director Gillian Thorpe discusses a proposition that the library wants to include on the district's ballot.

Butterfield library director Gillian Thorpe discusses a proposition that the library wants to include on the district’s ballot.

A follow-up call to Thorpe seeking details about the proposition didn’t produce further information. She said she is only willing to share information in a sit-down joint meeting with The Paper and the Putnam County News and Recorder, which couldn’t be accommodated before The Paper’s deadline. She declined to share the content of the petition.

Budget 1 and Budget 2

Bowers and Dinio presented two scenarios for budgets. Budget 1 has enhancements and additions, including two new teaching positions, an additional teaching support person to manage enrollment in kindergarten if necessary, staff development, a new peace officer position and enhanced opportunities for students in co-curricular activities and sports. Budget 2 was described by Bowers as “very close to the amount presently available assuming a minimal amount of state aid.”

The district will not have definite numbers concerning their state aid until the state’s budget is approved. State legislators are scheduled to pass a budget by April 1, but sometimes it does not get done by then.

Budget 2 had four key differences from Budget 1, and each impacted staff positions. Bowers was clear on the district’s priorities — teachers’ skills and expanded opportunities and situations for student learning. Bowers has found savings and ways to reallocate money that the district is spending on services by identifying other ways to achieve the same purpose. For example, the district currently outsources their communications and public relations support to BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) and will bring those responsibilities in-house.

Board President Joe Curto said, “It sounds like we’re at Budget 2 and could be at Budget 1 depending on some outside forces beyond our control.” Board members requested tweaking some of the language and clarifying some areas but were overall supportive of the proposals and optimistic that they could be achieved.

The tax-increase limit for Haldane is 2.72 percent, and both budget proposals are at that cap. Bowers said, “The taxpayer is not going to pay that additional 2.72 percent because it will be refunded just as it was this year. It makes sense for districts to go for the most they are allowed. The taxpayer will get a rebate from the state for the difference.”

By staying within the tax levy limit, district taxpayers are eligible for the rebate. Bowers said that last year the rebates were relatively small because the district’s limit was 1.09 percent, and that was the refund. It will be higher depending on the calculation. Curto said, “Theoretically, the increase is zero for the taxpayer. You pay it and then you get it back.”

The budget proposals are available on the district’s website. They are scheduled to make final decisions on the budget at their April 14 meeting.

Photo by P. Doan


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8 thoughts on “Taxpayer Issues Shaping Up for May Vote

  1. Butterfield Library already has a tax claim which comes in January with the town/county bills. What is this and how often can they do this? And isn’t it more than presumptuous of Ms. Thorpe to not divulge the demands of this tax? What is she hiding?

  2. Please take the time to inform yourself about library funding. Visit butterfieldlibrary.org for information.

    I contacted Philipstown.info and the PCNR the day following my appearance at the Haldane Board of Education to schedule a meeting. I asked both papers for a joint interview at their earliest convenience. The Library respects both papers and felt it would only be fair to sit down with both papers at the same time, and not to provide one with information. The meeting took place on Monday, March 16 at the Library and both papers were in attendance. Currently each paper has an article published on this topic.

    As I stated at the Haldane BOE meeting, there will be two public informational meetings: Wednesday, April 22 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 26 at 3 p.m. If someone is unable to attend these meetings, please feel free to contact me at jbldirector@gmail or 845-265-3040.

    We believe that it is up to the community via a vote to tell the library board what level of service they need to provide. If our community does not support an increase in funding, services will be cut to live within the funding now received.

    • Thanks for the information. Appreciate the library and its Board putting this out to a community vote and scheduling the information session in April. Based on what I’ve read so far, I’m definitely voting “yes.” $27 per household seems like a pretty good deal to me in exchange for all the services the library provides to our community.

  3. My family uses Butterfield Library heavily — it is a hugely important part of my children’s lives. I am happy to give an additional $27 toward library services. In fact, I’d be happy to give a lot more for all the benefit we receive from Butterfield. We feel so blessed to be living in a wee village and yet have available to us an outstanding collection and the expertise of superb library professionals.

    I also love that if we want materials that aren’t available locally, the librarians get it for us quickly and efficiently from other collections — we can access a whole world of resources from Morris Avenue. But Butterfield is so much more than books! My family frequently takes advantage of the excellent programming at the library. I am always amazed at how much Gillian and the librarians make possible with limited funds — super speakers, fun activities for kids, excellent educational opportunities for all ages.

    The add-on benefit of Butterfield’s programming, of course, is the strong and joyful sense of community that the library and its staff builds. Butterfield is one of the best things about life in Cold Spring. We’re blessed to have it and its superb staff. My family and I are grateful to Julia Butterfield for her vision, and to Gillian Thorpe and all the librarians who remain true to that vision and see it through. I will happily vote yes to increase Butterfield’s funding, and urge everyone to do the same. If nothing else, think about how easily you blow $27 on unimportant,frivolous purchases. Wouldn’t you rather feel like you’ve really spent that $27 well? Truth is, you can’t get a greater return on your investment than your public library. Vote yes!

    • When you consider whether or not to support the proposed increase, first look at the benefit of having the library and its services right here in our own community. Think about what knowledge, adventure and enlightenment is at the fingertips of our younger residents. I am often amazed at how creative, tax-based facilities need to get when funding is either cut or not increased for long periods of time, which is what our library has been forced to do for too long. Vote yes and let the library be your and your children’s gateway to a more informed tomorrow.

  4. What makes the Library vote a no-brainer for me is not just the quality of Butterfield’s programming or the modesty of the financial ask – but rather the availability of insight into where they get their money, how they spend it, and why.

    In the link Gillian has provided above, you will find DETAILED and audited financial reporting and clear indications of proper budget oversight and stewardship of tax payer dollars.

    THAT is how you ask the public for additional funds. Transparency builds trust – and if you want public money – the threshold should be a full public accounting.

    Well done, Gillian. And vote YES!

    • Thanks, Chris. The page is growing and being updated daily too. I’m trying to give the clearest picture of library funding as possible. Let me know if you think there is information that is missing or that I’ve overlooked.

  5. I think the voters need be aware that this funding is in addition to the funding the library already receives on their Town of Philipstown tax bills. Combining the two will cost the average homeowner $70 per year. The Library needs to be fully transparent on where this funding is going, including individual salaries, and also needs to explain what programs will be cut if this is not passed. As someone who lives behind the library I’m hoping Big Truck Day will be a thing of the past.