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Public Library District Toolkit: Strategies to Assure your Library’s Legal and Financial Stability

Vestal Public Library School District Vote 2016

It’s not just your library, it’s your community!
A library improves the value of our community.
A library provides lifelong learning and services to all residents.

The Problem

Currently the Vestal Public Library is primarily funded by the Town of Vestal taxes, with additional financial support from Broome County. Due to budget concerns and the tax cap at both the Town and County levels, the Vestal Library must find an alternate funding source in order to keep the library open and accessible for residents.

Our Solution

The Library Board of Trustees has been challenged to find a reliable source of operating income to keep our library’s doors open. We are recommending a plan that will give our community a way to keep the library open for 2017 and beyond. A School District Public Library would receive funding from residents living within the boundaries of the Vestal Central School District (VCSD), not just those living within the Town of Vestal, through a separate Library tax for all VCSD residents.

Our Plan

  • Establish a School District Public Library
  • Approve a tax levy of $700,000
  • Elect five members as a Board of Trustees to govern the new library

How You Can Help

Please show your support for the creation of a SCHOOL DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY. Vote on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 at the Vestal Public Library from noon to 9pm. More information is available at & upon request at

1. As a Vestal Central School District (VCSD) resident, what service does this library provide me?

  • Programs for Children and Teens
  • Meeting Rooms used by Local Organizations
  • Public Computers
  • Genealogical Software
  • Local History Resources
  • Proctoring Services
  • Tutoring Facilities
  • Book Sales
  • Facilities for Outdoor Events and Activities
  • Free cardholder status for all
  • A detailed list of services provided by the Vestal Library is at the end of this document.

2. How does the Library help the community?

A public library improves the value of the community as a whole! Libraries provide everyone the opportunity for life-long learning and help nurture children into productive citizens by encouraging reading habits. While supplementing the education curriculum of the school, libraries also support GED and literacy programs. Libraries preserve historical information about the community. Libraries, like school systems and hospitals, are essential community resources. Businesses and homeowners look closely at these resources when they make decisions about where to locate.

3. Why create a School District Public Library?

The majority of the annual funding for the Vestal Public Library has been provided by the Town of Vestal through town taxes. Broome County has also been providing additional funding over the years to offset the total Library budget. As both the County and the Town face financial constraints, funding from both entities have decreased and the Library faces an uncertain financial future.

Over the past years, the Vestal Public Library has reduced its expenditures, including staff and hours, and is currently operating at the minimum number of hours required under state law for a public library chartered to serve the population of the Town of Vestal (28,043 residents). Without support from the Vestal Central School District (VCSD) voters, the Library will have to cut services, reduce book purchases, and increase all user fees to remain open. Establishing a School District Public Library will give the Vestal Public Library the opportunity to grow, expand programs and provide additional opportunities for our community because it will be financially supported by a greater number of residents.

4. Why not consolidate with other local libraries?

This has been considered, but when we analyzed the services provided by local libraries we found that the total number and level of services could not be offered by only one of the libraries. For example, together the Vestal and Endicott Public Libraries circulated 322,876 items in 2014. They also provided 36,302 computer sessions and 447 programs attended by 12,795 people. Neither Library has the capacity to provide this level of service by itself. Our local libraries currently benefit from consolidated services that include group purchasing of materials and sharing automated systems to achieve greater savings and increase operating efficiency.

5. Why is this being called a School District Public Library?

The proposed School District Public Library will have an enlarged service area that corresponds with the boundaries of the Vestal Central School District (VCSD) which includes the Town of Vestal, and portions of the Town of Owego and Town of Binghamton.

6. Why is the service area being expanded to include areas of Town of Owego and Town of Binghamton?

Since opening its doors, the Vestal Public Library has been financially supported by the residents of Vestal through town taxes and more recently, contributions by Broome County. Transitioning to a School District Public Library widens the tax base for financial support. A separate Library Tax is one way to provide reliable and sustained operating income for the library.

7. What does this have to do with our schools and how will this affect school taxes?

The VCSD and the proposed School District Public Library will be separate entities. The VCSD school tax bill will include School taxes and a Library tax as individual line items. The VCSD will merely collect the Library tax along with the School tax and pass the Library tax to the School District Public Library. The Library tax will not affect the school tax.

8. How will the Library tax impact taxes?

The table below illustrates the Library Tax based on $100,000 Assessed Property for each Town in the VCSD.

Vestal Central School District Property Location Property Assessed Value Current Annual Library Tax Proposed Annual Library Tax
Vestal $ 100,000 $ 31.08 $ 33.51
Owego $ 100,000 $ 0.00* $ 33.50
Binghamton $ 100,000 $ 0.00* $ 33.13

*Non-Vestal Residents who are not members of the Four County Library system are charged $50 annually for a Vestal Public Library Card.

Under state education law, the School District Public Library will have the power to levy taxes annually, but will have to win voter approval for any levy increase.

For Town of Vestal Residents, the amount currently paid to the Town of Vestal through town taxes to support the Vestal Public Library will no longer be collected in your town taxes, but will be collected at the same time as your school taxes.

All residents of the VCSD will see a separate line for the Library tax on their VCSD tax bill. The Library tax does not fall under STAR. STAR only applies to school taxes.

9. How does this affect the Town of Owego/Tioga County/Apalachin Residents and the Apalachin Library?

Approximately 90% of the Apalachin Library’s annual budget is funded by Owego-Apalachin Central School District taxes. Apalachin residents do pay about 20¢ per $100,000 assessed property in their Town of Owego taxes to fund a $1,500 summer program. Apalachin residents may use the Apalachin Library for free as well as other libraries in the Finger Lakes Library System. This relationship will not change for Apalachin residents. Currently, Apalachin residents must pay a $50 annual fee to use the Vestal Public Library. With the proposed School District Public Library, Apalachin residents paying a Vestal Public Library tax would have access to use all libraries in the Four County Library system at no additional charge. The Apalachin Library is open 38 hours per week and has 23,000 items in its collection and offers a summer program. The Vestal Library is open 55 hours per week* and has a collection of 153,000 items. The Vestal Library offers many public programs throughout the year, has public meeting rooms, public computers, and provides tutoring facilities.

* The Vestal Public Library is currently operating at the minimum number of hours required under state law for a public library chartered to serve the population of the Town of Vestal (28,043 residents).

10. What is the gist of the proposition that will be on the ballot on April 5, 2016?

Proposition #1: To establish a School District Vestal Public Library and to approve an annual tax levy of $700,000 to support and maintain the library.

Proposition #2: To elect a five member Board of Trustees to govern the new Library. The Library Board of Trustees candidates currently are:

  • Margaret Hadsell
  • Sue Nunes
  • Dannielle Swart
  • Marianne Taylor
  • Peter Ziolkowski

11. When and where is the election?

The election will be held on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from noon to 9 p.m. in the Vestal Public Library located at 320 Vestal Parkway East, Vestal, NY.

12. Who is eligible to vote?

All registered voters who reside in the Vestal Central School District (VCSD) area may vote.

13. Will people be allowed to vote by absentee ballot?

Yes. Those voters unable to vote in person can fill out an application for an absentee ballot. The absentee ballot will automatically be sent to those on the county’s permanently disabled listing. Call the Vestal Central School District Clerk (Kay Ellis) at (607) 757-2265 for more details or with any questions about applying for an absentee ballot.

14. How will the proposed tax levy underwrite the Library housing and staff costs?

The proposed annual tax levy of $700,000 is requested to keep the library operating at its current state of building expenses and staffing levels.

The current state includes renting the library building from the Town of Vestal at an annual rent of $30,000. The Town of Vestal also provides parking lot maintenance, snow removal and building maintenance as in-kind services. The Library Board of Trustees is working with the Town of Vestal to sign a long-term agreement for these services to keep the building rental costs and maintenance items listed at a steady rate and within the proposed tax levy for the foreseeable future.

The current state also includes keeping the same staffing levels and benefits for employees. There are 3 full-time Library employees; 2 of the 3 full-time Library employees are in the CSEA Library Unit Union. The union contract has been signed for 2016 and the proposed budget for 2017 includes the same level of benefits for these full-time employees. As a state entity, the full-time employees will continue to be part of the state retirement plan and be afforded all the benefits they are entitled to through the state retirement plan as well. Costs for Library staffing salaries, labor and benefits for 2016 = $525,858. The project 2017 Costs for Library staffing salaries, labor and benefit 2017 = $535,872 (1.9% increase).

Details of the proposed 2017 and the final 2016 budgets are outlined in the Budget Materials tab on the website.