Desmond-Fish to Ask for Tax Increase

Referendum will appear on May ballot

By Chip Rowe

The Desmond-Fish Library will ask Garrison residents on May 21 to approve a 300 percent increase in the revenue generated by the local library tax, from $75,000 annually to $300,000.

If the referendum is approved, the owner of a Garrison home assessed at $300,000 would see his or her annual tax increase from $51 (17 cents per $1,000 of assessed value) to $192 (64 cents per $1,000).

The vote will take place at the Garrison School on the same ballot as the district budget and trustee vote; a ballot initiative in 2014 to establish the tax passed 314-182. As Philipstown residents, Garrison homeowners also pay a tax of 27 cents per $1,000 to the Butterfield Library in Cold Spring.

“Our request grows out of our long-range planning work,” said Anita Prentice, president of the Desmond-Fish board, in a statement. “We have relied on fundraising, grants and income from our endowment, and we’ve been very fortunate to have some generous individual supporters. But to provide the public services that are our mission, we need the stability that will come from the widespread support of the community.”

The Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison (File photo)

The library noted that an additional $225,000 annually from taxpayers would increase the percentage of public support in its $678,000 budget from 20 percent to 45 percent. It said other libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System average 78 percent public support.

Prentice said the library recently added the word public to its name to emphasis its mission. (The official name remains the Alice Curtis Desmond and Hamilton Fish Library.) Arthur Ross, second vice president of the board, said in a statement that “we are confident that we will not need to turn again to the taxpayers for the foreseeable future.”

The Desmond-Fish will hold three information sessions at the library in April and two in May on the referendum, with the first scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13. It also has posted information at

2 thoughts on “Desmond-Fish to Ask for Tax Increase

  1. As a trustee of the Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison, I’d like to thank The Highlands Current for its coverage of the May 21 referendum. As the article noted, the library will be asking for an overall increase in taxpayer support from $75,000 per year to $300,000 per year.

    Some context might be helpful.

    Most libraries in New York receive 80 percent or more of their funding from taxpayers. The Desmond-Fish Public Library, in contrast, receives less than 20 percent of its funding from taxes. That leaves 80 percent of the library’s funding subject to forces outside its control, such as the vagaries of the stock market that affects both the value of the library’s endowment and the ability and willingness of library patrons to make private donations.

    The library’s board decided to ask for an amount that will enable the library to meet the expressed requests of our community. That financial need is for ongoing, sustainable public support equal to about 45 percent of our annual budget of $660,000. The rest will still come from private sources.

    The amount requested in this referendum equals a tax of 64 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value of a homeowner’s property. The assessed value, in turn, is calculated at 47 percent of the estimated market value of the property.

    So, for example, owners of a home that is assessed at $300,000 (which means that its estimated market value is $638,000) would pay $194 per year, or 53 cents per day. Owners of a home assessed at $500,000 (which means that its estimated market value is $1.087 million) would pay $320 per year, or 78 cents per day.

    The staff and trustees of the Desmond-Fish Public Library are committed to transparency and openness. We have posted our budget, a detailed explanation and FAQs at We welcome questions and invite the public to attend information sessions scheduled at the library for Saturday, April 27, at 11 a.m.; Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, May 18, at 11 a.m.