Letter: Vote No on Library Referendum

Oppose tax that cannot be reduced or changed by voters

I intend to vote against the imposition of permanent additional annual school taxes of $73,150 on Haldane District taxpayers to support the Butterfield Library in the Haldane referendum May 19. A few years ago, Butterfield succeeded, by referendum, in achieving permanent annual property taxes payable by town residents of $276,000, which we have been paying ever since and will continue to pay until the end of time as there is no way for the taxpayers or voters to repeal or reduce them. Last year, the Desmond-Fish Library successfully engineered a Garrison School District referendum imposing permanent annual additional property taxes on those residents of $75,000.

Under current state law, these annual school taxes, totaling $349,150 for Butterfield if the referendum on May 19 passes, can be reduced only if the Butterfield Board brings on another referendum to reduce them—a most unlikely event. One result is that the libraries receiving these public funds cannot be required ever to justify their use of taxpayer funds to any publicly elected body, while other recipients of taxpayer funds must obtain them through an annual open budget process. Moreover, the funds sought in the current referendum have little or nothing to do with the Haldane schools.

I love and use Butterfield, and consider it an important part of the Philipstown community. I applaud the open and very public way in which Butterfield has proposed and justified the current referendum. I also appreciate Butterfield’s inclusion on its website of detailed financial information (which I could not find on the Desmond-Fish website). However, I must oppose any referendum to obtain permanent taxpayer funding at a level that cannot be reduced or changed through any political process.

Robert C. Bickford

One thought on “Letter: Vote No on Library Referendum

  1. I agree Robert. When the library is in need of money for any purpose it can always look to the community in other ways or tighten their belts. If we automatically just keep moving the amount of tax up, we will not see it decreased. When the town made a mistake in giving the $276k and went to court to try and reverse it, it failed. We now give the library this money every year and we, the taxpayers, have NO control how its used. This is not to say there is wrong doing but, there is no system of check and balance. It is a public library where the public has limited or no say. I say ‘NO’ on the referendum.

    One more thing, as a student in Haldane a while back, I used the library for all kinds of research etc. for school projects. My children do most of their research on computers, tablets etc. that nearly everyone has. Many of our teachers will expect that you are able to do this @ home. Food for thought. Public libraries that offer free anything are a bit deceiving. Nothing is free, more tax….more money.