The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Controversial library vote Tuesday

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  • CORNING | Voters Tuesday will decide the future of the Southeast Steuben County Library, one way or the other.
    Polls will be open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. at the familiar locations used for other school district votes: Beaver Dams United Methodist Church, Caton Town Hall, East Corning Fire Department, Lindley-Presho School, Corning Town Hall, Erwin Valley School, Corning Fire Department and the C-PP Administration Building.
    Voters will be deciding whether to authorize the library to collect a $960,000 tax levy from Corning-Painted Post School District residents.
    Supporters say the change in funding is necessary because the library's current sources of income are too unreliable. The library has been receiving money from agreements with municipalities, private fundraising, grants and fees, and has also been heavily drawing from its reserve funds in recent years – those funds will run out soon.
    They say the library offers vital services, like Internet access and job skills training, for a relatively low public cost.
    They also say the impact on individual property taxpayers is small: about $43 a year on an average home.
    But opponents say it's unfair to charge residents throughout the district for the library, when many in outlying areas will likely never set foot in the facility.
    Some of those who would be charged under the plan area in western areas of Chemung County, where residents already contribute tax money for their own library system. About 1,000 people in Southport, Catlin and Big Flats would be affected.
    Opponents also say that while, under the proposal, the library couldn't increase the levy without another vote, those paying the bill have little direct input into how the library operates.
    Many also suspect that municipalities currently making payments for the library won't be reducing local taxes if those payments are eliminated.
    Under the proposal, the library would still have to raise about another $300,000 a year to meet its current $1.2 million budget.
    The referendum needs a simple majority of votes to pass.
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