I respect my fellow Gadfly's opinions, but on this matter we must differ. Here's the letter I wrote to the New Paltz Times explaining why:
I'm an avid reader and I spent a good chunk of my childhood trolling my local library for new books. The librarians all knew my name and were happy to suggest titles I might like. My parents voted "yes" for the library's budget every year when it came up, as we lived in a community that had a library which taxed the residents directly and submitted its annual budget to the voters for consideration. And yet, when a kindly supporter of Elting called me to ask my intentions on the upcoming vote, I was on the fence. I've done more reading on the subject and reached a difficult conclusion.
I support funding Elting Memorial Library. I think we can afford to give them more money than we do now. But Proposition 414 is not the way to do it.
This proposition asks, "Shall the annual contribution of the Town of New Paltz provided in its budget for the Elting Memorial Library, a free association library, located at New Paltz, New York, be increased by one-hundred fifty-one thousand ($151,000.00) dollars annually to three hundred twenty-one thousand ($321,0000.00) dollars annually?" Unlike the mechanism that our library (and all town departments and other outside agencies) presently use, this would not be revisited every year. The library would get that same $321,000 every year unless and until a new proposition was passed by the voters to change it. We would no longer have the ability to ask our library's Board of Directors how they've been spending our money, which is a standard to which we hold our fire and police departments, the ambulance corps which is contracted to rush us to the hospital, our schools and the good people that keep our roads paved and free of obstructions.
I'm prepared to swallow a bigger chunk of library funding in my taxes, but I don't expect the increase to be quite as high as Prop 414 is asking -- mostly because I don't expect our Town Council to support such an increase in an election year. It's not very fair to the library to stake its fate on the political climate, but it's also not very fair to suggest that we should accept an "opt out" tax increase (since we would have to "opt out" by passing another proposition) when every other level of government as some sort of "opt in" mechanism in the form of an annual budget that is either approved by voters or by duly-elected representatives of those voters.
If the Board of Directors of the library feels that the town government is unwilling to share its expenses fairly, I respectfully suggest exploring the option of establishing a library district. Then the library would have the right to bring its case directly to the people -- and every year, the people would have the right to say "no."